The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued draft interconnect regulations for the cable and broadcasting industry. The industry has time till November 5 to send its inputs, after which the regulations would be finalised, Trai said in a news release on Thursday. According to sources in the cable TV industry, these regulations, in their present form, could lead to litigation due to grey areas.
The interconnection regulation is with reference to Trai recommendations on non-discriminatory access of all distribution platforms to TV channels. It was also stated in the recommendations that the regulation on non-discriminatory access of TV channels shall be shortly brought out by the authority. Trai has already started receiving industry comments on the clause. However, the draft regulations have now been placed on Trai’s website, for industry feedback. According to the draft, the interconnect regulation shall cover arrangements among service providers and revenue share throughout India. It states that any agent or any other intermediary of a broadcaster must respond to the request for providing signals of TV channels within 30 days of the request.
If the request is denied, the applicant shall be free to approach the broadcaster to obtain signals directly for such channels.
It adds that the volume related scheme to establish price differentials based on number of subscribers shall not amount to discrimination, if there is a standard scheme equally applicable to all similarly based distributors of TV channels.
Another point in the draft is that any person aggrieved of discrimination shall report to the concerned broadcaster or multi system operator, as the case may be.
If the broadcaster or multi system operator does not respond in a satisfactory manner within a period of 30 days, the aggrieved party can approach the appropriate forum.
On disconnection of TV channel signals, the draft agreement states that “no broadcaster/multi system operator shall disconnect the TV channel signals to a distributor of TV channels without giving one month notice giving in brief reasons for the proposed action.”
Besides, broadcasters/multi system operators shall inform the consumers about the dispute to enable them to protect their interests.