DTH operators against TRAI’s move to allow TV channel selection through third party apps
Stakeholders say TPD app not desirable when existing systems of distribution platform operators can be scaled up to meet requirements
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a notice seeking comments from stakeholders regarding its intentions to have a Channel Selection System developed by a third party to facilitate easy channel selection by consumers.
This came in the wake of repeated complaints that the authority has been receiving from consumers. TRAI, in a notice, informed that it has received several complaints from consumers that they are not able to choose the TV channels conveniently on the web portal/ apps of the DPOs. The complaints were analysed by TRAI and forwarded to DPOs to take necessary action and facilitate consumer choice, the notice had informed. Now the stakeholders have responded to the same and they are not on the same page as TRAI.
Hathway digital in their submission explained that TRAI’s explanation of the process and flow of the selection of channels through API is more or less in line with the current channel selection process. “It was made available by us to our subscribers to enable them to choose the channel that they desire to watch.” The submission also highlights that initially because of the wholesome changes required in the IT systems due to NTO including but not limited to configuration of huge number of bouquets by the broadcasters, there were some teething IT issues. Now those have been sorted out. “Hence in our opinion, direction for employing an application developed by third party should not be made mandatory and should be left at the discretion of the MSOs,” the submission concluded.
Siti Networks sought TRAI to look at another matter. “We have already established our website and mobile application and have also started the online payment option to the subscribers. In addition, we have been given to understand that most of the MSOs having presence in PAN India have also taken the similar steps as proposed in the draft regulations. The packages and offerings of such DPOs are already available in their websites and mobile apps. We would like to draw your attention that the subscribers are facing the hinderance where some of the DPOs (present in a local area only) have not complied with the framework and have not established their websites, mobile app, channel selection and payment mechanism etc. We would like to mention that the present amendment would not be effective in those cases where these DPOs avoid to make comply with the provisions in true 2 letter and spirit. This kind of avoidance defeat the purpose of regulations and lead to a great difficulty not only to the subscribers, LCOs but other DPOs also.”
Dish TV explained that DTH operators are licensed under the DTH License Agreements to carry out their business activities under the licensed conditions. “We strongly believe that there is no need or a requirement for laying down a mandatorily stipulation for the DTH operators to adopt a new API application mechanism when the DTH operators already have in place adequate and effective mechanism satisfying the same purpose.”
The DTH operator also highlighted another issue. “TRAI, while dealing with the most important issue raised by the DPOs, has stated in the draft that the proposed regulation does not allow the 6 TPDs to know the mobile number or subscriber ID of the subscribers. However this statement in itself is contradictory to the process defined in the Draft Amendment. This is because of the fact that without entering the said details it would simply not be possible for the subscribers to communicate as the same forms the very basis for initiating the verification process. While in the case of the DPOs, the DPOs being the custodian of the said details which pertains to its own subscribers maintain complete confidentiality of their data, no such guarantee can be provided by the Authority on behalf of the TPDs for the protection of such crucial data and therefore there is no guarantee of ensuring that the confidential data shared by the subscribers/DPOs would not be divulged,” it said.
TATA SKY objected to the explanatory memorandum that distribution platforms have no interest to provide consumer friendly options to consumers as easy channel selection options clashes with their own vested interest. "These third-party app developers are unknown entities having no credibility and may well harbor dubious intentions,” it said. Like Dish TV, TATa Sky too spoke about concerns about misusing the data. Tata Sky also argued that allowing the TPD to suggest optimum configuration of channels/bouquet seriously undermines competition by encouraging choice in favour of certain selected channels/bouquets.
Bharti Telemedia requested the authority to withdraw the Draft Regulation and formulate some guiding principles for DPO’s apps/websites to achieve the very purpose for which the TPD App is being envisaged. “The TPD App is not offering anything unique which cannot be built by the DPOs in their current systems. Therefore, the TPD app is not desirable when the existing systems of DPOs can be scaled up to meet the requirements visualized through TPD app,” it said.
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