The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is not likely to change its stand on the ‘must provide’ clause for the broadcasting sector, according to sources. Even as some broadcasters have protested against the Trai move on mandatory content-sharing across all distribution platforms (cable TV and direct-to-home), the regulator is in the process of rolling out an order on ‘must provide’ soon.
November 5 was the last date for stakeholders to send their inputs on Trai’s draft interconnect regulations, which was issued last month. Industry sources had pointed out that the regulations, in their present form, could lead to litigation.
However, the government also favours a non-discriminatory arrangement or a must-provide clause, whereby content can be shared across all platforms, sources indicated.
Among others, broadcasters such as Star and Sony do not offer their content to the DTH platform of the Zee group—Dish TV. Also, during a recent cricket match telecast, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati had refused to give its exclusive content to Dish TV. Trai chairman Pradip Baijal had earlier said that he does not believe in ‘exclusivity’.
According to the interconnect draft, the 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.
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 thirty 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. Accordingly, the notice to discontinue signal shall also be given in two local newspapers in case the distributor of TV channels is operating in local area and in two national papers in case the distributor of TV channels is providing services in a wide area.