Broadcasters will need to comply with the ‘must provide’ order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) only when the number of direct-to-home (DTH) players is more than one, Trai chairman Pradip Baijal told FE.
In the current scenario, broadcasters like Star and Sony are within their rights to deny content to Dish TV, the DTH platform from the Zee stable. Once another DTH player, for instance Tata-Star JV Space TV, starts the service, the ‘must provide’ order will come into force, Mr Baijal clarified. Trai had issued the order early this month.
Currently, Subhash Chandra-promoted Dish TV is the only pay DTH platform in the country. Even as public broadcaster Prasar Bharati also started DTH recently, it only has free-to-air channels on its platform. Therefore, the pubcaster’s DTH is not being considered a “competing platform”, Mr Baijal said.
It is learnt that Trai has indicated to Dish TV that “the must-provide order will be effective only when competing platforms are there”. The idea is not to give any one player an edge over the other. While Dish TV was launched late last year, Tata-Star DTH application is still pending with the government.
Incidentally, some industry stakeholders in the broadcasting sector had threatened legal action over Trai’s ‘must provide’ order. While industry experts and stakeholders cite exclusivity as the selling point of DTH, the Trai order is learnt to have focused on consumer interest.
As Mr Baijal put it, “We didn’t want multiple dishes at viewers’ premises”. And therefore, the must-provide clause. “I must develop a viable DTH,” he added.