Most players want DTH rules by TRAI, no agreement on carriage fee

NEW DELHI: Most of the stakeholders irrespective of the category they belong to are in favour of some regulation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) with regard to direct-to-home (DTH) Television, but are divided on whether Quality of Service should be stipulated by the regulator or drawn up by the licensee.

According to the comments to a consultation paper relating to DTH issued by TRAI on 2 March, it is clear that the stakeholders are also divided on whether the regulator should stipulate a must carry clause, though many have said this should be decided by the licensee keeping the needs of his subscribers in mind.

A total of 27 stakeholders responded. They included DTH licencees Tata Sky, Dish TV and Sun Direct, broadcasters Star TV, ZEE Telefilms, Zoom TV and Times Now, SET Discovery, Neo Sports, and Sangeet Bangla Network, content providers Reliance Blumagic, NDS Asia Pacific, Bharti Airtel, the multi-system operator IndusInd Media, cable organizations Cable Operators Federation of India and Association of Cable Network Operators, consumer organization Voluntary Organisation in the Interest of the Consumer (VOICE) and Society for Consumer Consciousness, media advocacy group CASBAA (Cable and Satellite Broadcasters Association of Asia), and several individuals.


A majority of those who responded said they preferred regulation by TRAI rather than a Reference Interconnect Offer system for interconnection agreements. Some suggested that a Standard Interconnection Agreement could be mandated for this purpose. The licencees felt that there should be regulation till the industry attains a maturity level, though one of them felt that an agreement can be mandated only if the parties are unable to come to an agreement.

Sun Direct suggested a Standard Subscription Agreement to be formulated by TRAI. Star and Neo Sports were of the view that agreements already exist between the platforms and broadcasters, and therefore there should no further regulation.

CASBAA was strongly opposed to any kind of regulation or interference by any government functionary or regulator and felt that the free field of competition would help to decide any disputes. It felt that there was already more than necessary regulation in all matters related to broadcasting. TRAI should in fact be working to reduce regulation, it said.

Most respondents felt that there was no need for any amendment in the licence regulations relating to the must-carry clause to do away with the clause requiring provision of access to various content providers/channels on a non-discriminatory basis, though some felt this should be left to the consumers.

SET said as long as there was a `must provide’ obligation on the content providers/channels on a non-discriminatory basis, there should be a parallel obligation on the DTH platforms to provide access to all content providers/channels on a nondiscriminatory basis Bharti Airtel feels this provision has become obsolete.

The Association of Cable TV Network Operators felt that all the free-to-air channels of DD Direct and at least thirty FTA channels should be made available to all platforms.


The concept of carriage fee should be done away with till all broadcasters are given a fair chance.

Though divided on the issue of Quality of Service, most respondents say that certain guidelines already exist and therefore there is no need for the TRAI to bring forward any new regulation.

As far as Set Top Boxes go, most respondents said Rental Only schemes should be brought in and technical interoperability was irrelevant.

Star felt that since more DTH platforms are likely to come in, the recommendations in the Consultation Paper should be held over for at least one year to watch the situation.


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