TRAI meets broadcasting sector heads to discuss operational issues

The meeting was held in the presence of TRAI chairman PD Vaghela, & secretary SK Gupta with industry leaders like Jawahar Goel, Harit Nagpal, SN Sharma, Anil Malhotra and Avinash Pandey in attendance

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: Mar 3, 2021 7:59 AM

Telecom and broadcasting sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Monday held a meeting with the CEOs and top management of the broadcasting companies to plan for the fiscal year ahead.

The meeting was held in the presence of TRAI chairman PD Vaghela and secretary SK Gupta with Dish TV CMD Jawahar Goel, Tata Sky MD & CEO Harit Nagpal, DEN Networks CEO SN Sharma, Siti Networks CEO Anil Malhotra, and ABP Network CEO Avinash Pandey in attendance.

One of the key issues discussed in the meeting was the audit of distribution platform operators’ (DPOs) systems like the conditional access system (CAS) and subscriber management system (SMS). The broadcasters were unhappy that the DPOs were not complying with audit-related guidelines.

DPOs discussed compliance-related matters that are mandated in the regulation. The issues of network capacity fee (NCF) remaining unchanged for two years also came up for discussion.

“This was a routine meeting that we hold every year with stakeholders to discuss issues that TRAI should take up in the new fiscal,” said TRAI Secretary SK Gupta, without divulging any further details.

Tata Sky MD & CEO Harit Nagpal also said that the meeting was held to discuss routine matters in the industry.

The head of a cable distribution company, on condition of anonymity, said, “It was a routine meeting which happens every year to decide on the course of action for the coming financial year. Broadcasters discussed audit-related issues while DPOs discussed compliance-related issues. The meeting lasted for about 2.5 to 3 hours.”

A senior executive from a leading TV network said that the operational issues that all the stakeholders face were discussed. The executive also said that the meeting was good and there was a healthy discussion between all the stakeholders.

“Broadcasters told TRAI about audit-related problems and people not complying with the regulations in terms of the way they have to do the audits, avoiding audits and not giving correct subscriber reports,” the executive said.

The legal head of a DPO said that the DTH operators discussed issues related to OTT regulation, DTH licencing regime, and NCF.

“We discussed regular matters like OTT to be regulated by TRAI, the licencing regime of the DTH to be taken care of and the fact that NCF increase is not being allowed for last 2-3 years. These things were put forth to the TRAI. After this discussion, they will make an annual calendar and then they will decide what all they want to do in the consultation process,” the above-mentioned source said.

The legal head of a broadcasting company urged the TRAI to revise ad cap guidelines for the news genre.
The executive also noted that the DD Free Dish auction process is non-transparent which results in non-level playing field conditions between participants.
A case in point being Bucket C (news) fetching a higher average slot price compared to Bucket A+ (Hindi GEC) during the recent annual e-auction of MPEG-2 slots on DD Free Dish. The C bucket had the highest average slot price and the single highest bid.
The executive also highlighted the issue of free-riding by certain channels on the DD Free Dish platform by taking advantage of the fact that the signals are not encrypted.

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