Technology

Trai recommends 25% cap on number of permissions per entity for mobile TV licence

MUMBAI: In the first phase of Mobile TV licensing, every applicant and its related entities should be allowed to bid for only one licence per service area to prevent monopolies, the sector regulator has recommended.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has also said that as the number of licences per licence area will be limited "no entity can hold more than 25 per cent of the total number of permissions given in the country to prevent monopolisation at national level for the first phase." This is in addition to the stipulation that an entity should have only one licence per service area.


Trai also clarified some of the provisions of its recommended mobile TV policy, in which it has put the onus of bandwidth allocation on the government. The regulator has also proposed that the licence fee be decided between four per cent of gross revenue or five per cent of one-time entry fee (OTEF). Initially, it had suggested that four per cent of gross revenue be charged as licence fee, or 10 per cent of OTEF, whichever is higher.
 
Trai, which has submitted its report to the Information and broadcasting Ministry, said anyone eligible including UASL/CMTS licensees can participate in the bidding process. Moreover, convergence of technologies should be encouraged, which would ultimately result in better service proposition to the subscribers. So, the earlier recommendation is reiterated.


In the initial policy report, which was filed in April 2009, Trai had suggested that each mobile TV licensee be given 8MHz of spectrum in the 585-806MHz band. But the ministry said the band was already being used by state-run television broadcaster Doordarshan and the Defense ministry.


The authority said that as recommended, DoT (WPC) has agreed that carriers would be allotted in the specified frequency band. The question of priority between broadcasting and telecom will have to be considered appropriately keeping in view the requirement of both the sectors and also keeping in view the convergence of platforms.


Earlier, in January, Trai had recommended a limit of 74 per cent for foreign investors in mobile TV services and had said that mobile TV licensees should be allowed to broadcast only those news channels that have been authorised by the Ministry. Both these and several other points have been agreed upon.


The authority, after carefully considering the views of the government, recommended that roll out obligation should be in three phases. In the first phase, the licensee must commence the mobile TV transmission in all cities having a population (as per 2001 census) of more than one million and the State/UT capitals within the licence area within 12 months from the date of allocation of spectrum. 
 
In the second phase, the licensee must commence the mobile TV transmission in all cities /towns having population (as per 2001 census) of 100,000 or above within the license area within 24 months from the date of allocation of spectrum.


In the third phase, the licensee must commence the mobile TV transmission in all the district headquarters within the license area within 36 months from the date of allocation of spectrum.


Delay to meet the roll out obligations should attract liquidated damages for six months and subsequent defaults should result in cancellation of licences and withdrawal of spectrum.


Referring to the Ministry’s view that a mobile TV broadcaster cannot be equated to a broadcasting company, Trai said this issue is similar to the on-demand services like movie-on- demand, pay-per-view service etc on DTH platform which is presently under consultation. So views on this issue will be given by Trai after the similar issue on DTH is finalised. While determining the shareholding of a company or entity or person, both its direct and indirect shareholding has to be taken into account. As far as the criteria for calculating the direct and indirect holding as per the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s press note no 2 of 2009 is concerned, view on this will be given by Trai after the outcome of the ongoing consultation process on foreign investment limit in broadcasting sector. Further, once a telecom operator takes a mobile TV licence, the cross holding restrictions automatically apply to it. So, there is no issue of non-level playing field.


Trai has also given its recommendations of bundling states and union territories when licences are issued. In its response to the ministry on issues pertaining to the licensing of Mobile TV services in India, Trai has suggested that there be 20 circles of operation for Mobile TV services in India, as opposed to the 22 circles of operation for mobile and broadband wireless services in India. For Mobile TV, Mumbai and Maharashtra are a part of the same circle, named after the latter, and Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West) are being combined.
 

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