Telecom regulator TRAI has issued a regulation to amend the interconnection regulation, which covers arrangements among service providers for interconnection and revenue share, for all broadcasting and cable services in India.
A notice period of three weeks has been prescribed for disconnection of TV channel signals by a broadcaster to any distributor of TV channels. The requirement of issue of a three-week notice has also been extended to the distributors of TV channels prior to disconnection of the re-transmission of any TV channel.
Issuing of public notice through newspapers has been made compulsory prior to disconnection of TV channel signals. A broadcaster or MSO or distributor of TV channels is also required to inform the consumers through scrolls on the concerned channel.
TRAI also mandated that the broadcaster or MSO to whom a request for providing TV channel signals is made, should either provide the signals on mutually agreed terms or specify the terms and conditions on which they are willing to provide TV channel signals within three months from the date of the request.
Methodology to arrive at the subscriber base of each distributor of TV channels at the time of first agreement, during the validity of agreement and at the time of renewal of agreement has also been laid down for agreements between the broadcasters and MSOs and between MSOs and cable operators.
TRAI has prescribed that all broadcasters shall publish their Reference Interconnect Offers (RIO) describing, inter-alia, the technical and commercial conditions for interconnection of non-addressable systems and submit copies of the same to the telecom regulator. The reference interconnect offer so published by the broadcaster will form the basis for all interconnection agreements to be executed thereafter.
Broadcasters will be required to give one month’s notice for conversion of free to air channels to pay channels and vice versa.
Parties to an interconnection agreement for supply of TV channel signals will be required to renew their interconnection agreements within three months of the expiry of the original agreement.
TRAI said that with the experience of more than one and a half years after issue of the interconnection regulation a need was felt to clarify as well as expand the scope of the same so as to minimise the doubts and litigations.