Tuesday, September 4, 2007

DTH operators should offer all channels

Broadcasters must offer all channels

Special Correspondent

New rules for DTH operation


Broadcasters must offer all channels on a-la-carte basis

TRAI will keep a check on pay channel rates


NEW DELHI: To ensure that the Direct-to-Home (DTH) television subscribers watched all channels of their choice, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to have a regulatory framework in place.

The new regime – to take effect from December 1, 2007 – will be put in place through the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Fourth Amendment) Regulation, 2007. The TRAI issued it on Monday.

Under the amendment, all broadcasters will have to compulsorily offer all their channels on a-la-carte basis to the DTH operators.

Though they could club their channels and offer them as bouquets, the broadcasters cannot compel the operators to include them in the packages being offered to the end subscribers.

Pay channel rates

The Authority has decided to keep a check on the pay channels’ rates: the sum of a-la-carte rates of pay channels in a bouquet cannot exceed 1.5 times the bouquet rate and no a-la-carte rate of a pay channel in a bouquet will be more than three times the average pay channel rate of that bouquet.

Once the new regime takes effect, every broadcaster will have to publish within 90 days its Reference Interconnect Offer (RIOs) for the operators, containing technical and commercial terms for interconnectivity.

The RIOs will have to provide details of the rates of channels and bouquets, discounts, payment terms, security and anti-piracy requirements, subscriber base reports and audit, tenure of agreement and termination of agreement. The TRAI has opted for the RIO over Standard Interconnection Agreements to keep the regulation in “light touch.”

The RIOs, according to the Authority, allows broadcasters to frame their offers in accordance with their business and marketing needs within the broad guidelines decided by it.

“If a DTH operator makes a request to a broadcaster to enter into an interconnection agreement based on the published RIO, then the broadcaster will be obliged to do so within 45 days of the request,” the TRAI said.

“Growth affected”

The amendment was introduced after consultations with all stakeholders in view of the difficulties faced by the two providers – Dish TV and Tata Sky – in concluding their interconnection agreements in time, as a result of which the subscribers to either of the platforms had to make do without many of their favourite channels for several months.

This, in the TRAI’s opinion, has stunted the growth of DTH in the country.

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

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THE HINDU

http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/04/stories/2007090461131300.htm

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