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Trai likely to keep tabs on DTH inter-operability

24-February-2004
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Trai likely to keep tabs on DTH inter-operability

Monitoring stakeholders’ adherence to inter-operability norms in direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting is expected to come under the regulator’s fold soon. According to government guidelines, inter-operability of set-top boxes is mandatory in DTH. Even as DTH in India has a single player so far, violations in the area of inter-operability have already been reported. ASC Enterprises, which soft-launched its DTH venture late 2003, however denies any violation on the company’s part.

The information and broadcasting ministry, sources said, has already sounded Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Pradip Baijal on how DTH inter-operability is an area waiting to be monitored.

As more players get ready for DTH, Trai’s involvement in monitoring inter-operability is almost inevitable now, sources added. Although the Tata-Star DTH venture, which is likely to be launched sometime soon, claims to have an open-architecture system, the proprietary technology of Star has been a talking point of the industry for long.

State broadcaster Doordarshan has also announced its DTH plans, but prefers to call it a Ku band project. Unlike other DTH players, the DD venture would only have free-to-air channels on its platform.

Open architecture or inter-operability has been one of the tricky clauses in DTH. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) recommended open architecture as opposed to proprietary technology for DTH. Direct-to-home is all about getting the channels of your choice with the help of a small dish at your home or office, without having to do anything with your neighbourhood cablewallah.

Trai was given the additional responsibility of monitoring the cable and broadcasting sector recently. Sorting out issues in the new cable TV distribution system—conditional access system (CAS)—was the first job on the Trai plate. Subsequently, second phase of FM radio privatisation was also handed over to Trai to firm up norms for the sector. Last week, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma wrote to Trai for its view on getting telecast rights to important national events, such as India-Pakistan cricket series!

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