Trai seeks views on carriage & placement fees and carriage of minimum channels

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper seeking comments from all stakeholders on placement and carriage fees and also over the requirements of minimum channel carrying capacity to be set up by MSOs.

These three provisions in the Interconnection Regulations have been set aside by the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) on petitions by MSOs.

The consultation paper issued on Thursday also attempts to make amendments to the Tariff Order applicable for addressable systems – both MSOs and direct-to-home (DTH) services, through the consultation process. Trai has sought responses from stakeholders on its plan to link the prices of channel bouquets and individual (or a-la-carte) channels, to make it mandatory for provision of both free-to-air and pay channels on a-la-carte basis and to restrict offer of channels requiring special type of STBs only on a-la-carte basis or as part of separate bouquets that consists of only those category of channels that require a particular type of specialised STB.

Trai has called for submission of views and reasons thereof by all the stakeholders by 11 January.

Responses Sought on following issues related to amendments to the Interconnection Regulations:

Whether the following proviso should be introduced in the clause 3(2): "provided that the provisions of this sub-regulation shall not apply in the case of a multi-system operator, which seeks signals of a particular TV channel from a broadcaster, while at the same time demanding carriage fee for carrying that channel on its distribution platform."

Clause 3(2) has safeguards with regard to charging of carriage fee: (1) Carriage fee to be transparently declared in the RIO of the MSO, (2) The carriage fee is to be uniformly charged (3) The carriage fee not to be revised upwardly for a minimum period of 2 years, and (4) The details of the carriage fee are to be filed with the Authority and the Authority has a right to intervene in cases it deems fit.

Trai said if any of the stakeholder is against this provisions, it should state the reasons thereof.

(a) Whether there is a need to specify certain minimum channel carrying capacity for the MSOs in the interconnection regulations for DAS.

(b) If yes, what should be the different categories (example cities/town/rural area) of areas and the minimum channel carrying capacity for each area.

Whether there is a need for regulating the placement fee in all the Digital Addressable Systems. If so, how it should be regulated. The stakeholders have been asked to submit their comments with justifications.

Responses sought on following Issues related to amendments to the Tariff Order applicable for Addressable Systems:

Trai has suggested (a) a ceiling on the a-la-carte rates of pay channels forming part of bouquet(s) which shall not exceed three times the ascribed value of the pay channel in the bouquet and (b) that the a-la-carte rates of pay channels forming part of bouquet(s) shall not exceed two times the a-la carte rate of the channel offered by the broadcaster at wholesale rates for addressable systems.

The stakeholders have been asked to offer their comments on the above conditions to prevent perverse a-la-carte pricing of the pay channels being offered as part of the bouquet(s). The stakeholders can also submit any other formulation that can achieve the same objective, along with its justification.

To deletion of the word "Pay" to make it mandatory to offer both free-to-air and pay channels on a-la-carte basis. Trai calls it: "Freedom to choose the channel(s) on a-la-carte and/or bouquet(s)."

Whether the channels that require special type of STB be offered only on a-la-carte basis or as part of separate bouquets that consists of only those channels that require a particular type of specialised STB.

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