TRAI has directed MSM Discovery (earlier Set Discovery) to offer to direct-to-home service providers the same bouquets that are being offered for non-CAS cable distribution. MSM Discovery will also have to offer to DTH service providers its bouquets and channels at 50 per cent of the rates at which these are being offered in non-CAS areas to cable operators.
TRAI has ordered this to be implemented within 15 days. MSM will have to file a compliance report with the Authority, along with a copy of the Reference Interconnect Order (RIO), after due modification. The directive came after the sector regulator had given a statement last week that all broadcasters had agreed to comply with this. TRAI pointed out that MSM had showed defiance to implement an order from the sector tribunal.
TRAI had been trying to get MSM Discovery to agree to the regulatory intervention that said that DTH players must be given bouquets and channels on a la carte basis and at prices half of that being charged to the cable operators. MSM’s last letter to the Authority points out, inter alia, “MSM Discovery Pvt Ltd has entered into contractual agreements with all existing DTH operators on a non-discriminatory basis, except one DTH operator, in whose case the matter is sub-judice before the Hon'ble TDSAT and Hon'ble Delhi High Court.”
TRAI did not find this to be acceptable after carefully considering the MSM letter because of the fact that there were only a handful of DTH operators in the country and the existence of contractual arrangements with some of them was not a valid ground for giving any special treatment to MSM Discovery.
”A Reference Interconnect Offer is meant for facilitation of interconnection agreements and prevention of imposition of unilateral conditions by any service provider in the sector so as to protect the interests of service providers, and consumers of the broadcasting sector and cable sector, and to promote and ensure orderly growth of the broadcasting sector and cable sector; and, the broad norms applicable to the Reference Interconnect Offers of all broadcasters are also applicable to MSM Discovery,” TRAI said.
It also said that the contention of MSM Discovery, that a further reduction in a la carte rates would not help the cause of the end consumer, did not have merit because it was not a valid ground for exempting MSM Discovery from application of the norms laid down by the TDSAT in its judgment dated March 31, 2007.