TRAI orders MSOs and payTV b'casters to file interconnect agreements

NEW DELHI: There has been a hue and cry over the last month or so that broadcasters and MSOs have been extremely slothful in signing channel agreements with each other. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has taken note of this and asked all of them to furnish the names of the MSO or the service provider with whom the interconnection agreement has been entered into along with the service area covered and the validity period of the said agreement by the week beginning 13 May.

The directives were sent individually to all pay broadcasters/ aggregators and MSOs on 6 May.

TRAI has also directed the pay broadcasters/aggregators and MSOs to produce in writing the terms and conditions of their interconnection agreements with MSOs or other service providers wherever they are is providing cable television services through digital addressable systems (DAS).

The direction has been sent under section 13, read with sub-clauses (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 11 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 for implementation of Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems.

Regulation 5(3) of the regulations provides that every broadcaster has to, within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of request from the multi system operator, enter into an interconnection agreement or modify the existing interconnect agreement in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Reference Interconnect Offer published under these regulations or as may be mutually agreed.

Regulation 5(6) provides that it shall be mandatory for the broadcasters of pay channels to reduce the terms and conditions of the interconnection agreements into writing; and Regulation 5(7) provides that no broadcaster of pay channels shall make available signals of TV channels to any multi system operator without entering into a written interconnection agreement.

Prior to this notice, TRAI had held meetings with broadcasters and MSOs on 22 March, 2 April, 12 April and 18 April on issues relating to implementation of the phase II of implementation of DAS systems wherein the broadcasters and MSOs were asked to expedite the signing of interconnection agreements and submission of the information of the same to the Authority.

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