Cable TV

Open House on Interconnect agreements aims at expediting framework

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NEW DELHI: Picking up momentum even as the deadline for the final phase of digital addressable system is less than six month away, an Open House discussion is being held on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's consultation paper on Interconnection framework for Broadcasting TV Services distributed through DAS.

This meeting, being held in Delhi on 13 July, comes just over a month after an earlier meeting on Register of Interconnection Agreements dated26May, which had thrown up diverse opinions and led to extension of the date for receiving comments of stakeholders to 10 June on its Consultation Paper.

In the paper issued on 4 May on Interconnection framework for Broadcasting TV Services, TRAI noted that the exceptional growth of the number of TV channels combined with the inherent limitations of analogue cable TV systems had posed several challenges, mainly due to capacity constraints and non-addressable nature of the network. The evolution of technology paved way for bringing about digitization with addressability in the cable TV sector. For implementation of digital addressable systems in the cable TV sector, the Central Government notified the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules 2012 on 28 April 2012. Immediately after the notification of the Cable TV Rules 2012, the Authority notified the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable Television Systems) Regulations 2012 on 30th April 2012.

These regulations are specifically applicable for DAS whereas the Interconnection Regulations 2004 were applicable for non-addressable cable TV systems and also for other addressable systems such as DTH, HITS and IPTV. The basic features of the Interconnection Regulations 2012 are similar to the basic features of the Interconnection Regulations 2004.

With implementations of DAS, there has been a marked increase in the number of subscribers receiving TV channels through addressable platforms. The number of subscribers being served by the DTH services has also gone up significantly. HITS platforms are also expected to make fast penetration in making available digital broadcasting TV services in the country. Now majority of the subscribers in India are receiving TV signals through digital addressable systems.

TRAI said the interconnection regulations ought to evolve to keep pace with new developments in the sector, while sustaining the fundamental underlying principles of non-discrimination and level playing field. The commercial parameters for revenue share between service providers primarily depend upon the number of subscribers subscribing to channels/ bouquets. The numbers of subscribers in each type of addressable platform are verifiable. To ensure non-discrimination and level playing field amongst the distributors using different digital addressable systems such as DTH, IPTV, HITS, and DAS, it would be in the fitness of things that all these service providers are regulated using the common regulatory framework.

Therefore, the consultation paper was aimed at providing a regulatory framework for interconnection that ensures a level playing field to all types of DAS systems. The consultation paper also discussed issues that the Authority noticed and plausible ways of dealing with those issues in respect of digital addressable systems. The review of the existing regulatory framework is being done with the objective of fostering competition, increase trust amongst service providers, ease of doing business, reduce disputes, improve transparency and efficiency, promote sustainable, orderly growth and effective choice to consumers.

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