The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday released a consultation paper on ‘Issues Relating to Regulation of Interconnection for Broadcasting and Cable Television Services.’ The consultation paper draws upon inputs received from stakeholders in response to the Consultation Note dated June 21, 2006.
Some stakeholders have suggested that as DTH and IPTV entail a consumer entry cost, there was a need to induce consumers to incur a cost to change their present viewing arrangements. “One possibility for expansion of viewership of such platforms would be the availability of driver content and non-discriminatory access of all channels to all distributors of TV channels should not be mandated by regulation,” they held.
Hence TRAI sought views on “Whether the provisions for mandatory access and the non-exclusively requirement in the Interconnect Regulation be removed so that there is no mandatory requirement for channels that are provided to only a digital platform / service to be made available to any other digital platform /service or on the cable platform?”
To tackle the issue of disconnection of services by distributors who enjoy two notice periods, the paper has asked the stakeholders, “whether there should be only one notice period for the notice to be given to a distributor of TV channels prior to disconnection of signals?”
Many of the issues raised in the consultation paper are relevant only to a non-CAS regime, as in a CAS regime there wouldn’t be any conflict over subscriber base. This Consultation Paper covers issues relating to amendments of the existing regulations as well as expansion of the existing regulations.
Elaborating on the need of such a consultation paper, the paper states, “There were a large number of complaints regarding violation of The Interconnect Regulation. Many cases were filed by service providers in the TDSAT. Out of 80 judgments posted on the website of TDSAT as on 5.4.2006, the number of judgments relating to cable TV sector was 54. Thus a need was felt to expand the scope of Interconnect Regulations so as to minimize the doubts and disputes/ litigation.”
TRAI has also sought the opinion of stakeholders on several issues including the methodology for periodic revision of subscribers, validity of subscribers, parameters for MSOs, and the issue of FTA channels turning into Pay channels.