In a move that has come has some relief to broadcasters, on May 14, 2012, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued an amendment to the existing Interconnect Regulations 2012 for Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems (DAS).
One of the biggest issues of the tariff order dated April 30, 2012 on DAS was ‘legitimising’ carriage fee, which broadcasters were hoping would have been eliminated completely in the digitisation era. The carriage fee clause however was seen not only outrageous but also ambiguous.
Both the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA) had highlighted the problems that legitimising carriage fee, without clarity, would have brought post digitisation.
In the amendment issued on May 14, TRAI has clarified that MSOs (multi system operators) will not demand any placement fee from the broadcaster. As is known of the total carriage fee paid by broadcasters today, about 10 per cent is for carriage and 90 per cent was for the placement of the channel so that in a limited bandwidth, the channel was present on prime bands and in similar footprint as its competitors.
However now, MSOs will follow the (EPG) electronic programme guide system and all channels that the MSO will offer, would appear genre wise on the EPG.
The TRAI has instructed all broadcasters to declare the genre of its channel.
The TRAI has also said that the reference interconnect offer for an MSO submitted should contain the basis on which carriage fee payable by a broadcaster is determined.
It may be recalled that soon after the regulation was issued, the then TRAI Chairman JS Sarma had stated in a conversation with exchange4media that the TRAI would revisit the order at the time of digitisation when the changed face of carriage fee would have become clear. For the clarification to have come now would mean respite to broadcasters, especially news broadcasters.