TRAI asks DTH operators to provide interoperability of STBs

MUMBAI: In September this year, the licence of India’s oldest DTH provider Dish TV was to expire after a period of 10 years and then there was no provision for an extension. On 1 October the regulator came out with a consultation paper and on 14 November it issued a supplementary paper. 

With the last date to provide feedback approaching, TRAI had an open house discussion (OHD) on 9 December with the leading DTH providers give suggestions on the consultation and supplementary papers released by TRAI.

During the OHD, TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar said that set top boxes (STBs) should be inter-operable for the end consumer, either commercially or technically. He also told operators that the viewers should have the option to use the same STBs if they wished to change their service provider. But if operators found it to be a challenging prospect then they should be given an option of returning the STBs to their provider in exchange for money that could help them buy a new one.

The Information and Broadcasting (I & B) Ministry had directed TRAI to set up new guidelines for obtaining DTH licenses in India. The OHD between TRAI and DTH players was to frame new recommendations regarding the same.

During the OHD, DTH operators were asked to give views on issues such as entry fee and quantum thereof, licence fee, conditions governing cross holdings and period of extension. Representatives from the industry said that new licences should be given for a reasonably long duration and the government should have the power to cancel these if operators violate rules.

Khullar conveyed to operators that once the new licence rules come into effect, they will have two options: one, to either continue under their earlier terms and conditions till their licence expires or two, to change to the new system.

Khullar has told DTH operators that they can submit any additional points till Friday.

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