TRAI releases fresh consultation note on CAS

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India today released another consultation paper on the broadcasting and distribution of TV channels, following talks with various stakeholders in the proposed conditional access system in the country.

Among the issues discussed is the pertinent issue of whether the TRAI should make it mandatory for broadcaster to have an open access of their contents on non discriminatory basis to all platforms including cable TV and Direct To Home services. It also addresses the issue of whether denial of channel signals to cable/DTH operators and denial of carriage of channels by multi system operators /local cable operators /DTH operators is anti competitive. Should 'must carry' of a channel be made mandatory for all cable and DTH services providers.

The paper addresses issues like - should CAS be introduced to view pay channels and whether it should be mandated by law or voluntarily introduced by service providers so that they are able to get subscription revenues. The paper also addresses issues like who should bear the cost of subsidies on set top boxes and if there is a need to regulate the commercial arrangement between players to share the burden of subsidy. The authority has invited suggestions on the consultation paper by 7 May 2004, and has fixed open house consultations in three metros - Delhi on 11 May, Chennai on 7 May and Mumbai 15 May 2004.

The last consultation paper on conditional access was issued by TRAI on 15 January 2004. The paper issued today also addresses the issue of interoperability of STBs for cable TV systems and the methodoloyg of determining prices if pay channels are made subject to price regulation. It also seeks to resolve the issue of bundling of pay channels and the ceiling rates on individual pay channels in a bouquet.

It also takes into consideration the periodicity of revision of rates for basic tier and pay channels and addresses the issue of restrictions imposed on the quantum of jump of revision of periodic subscription fee for pay channels, as well as that of regulation of advertisements on pay channels and FTA channels. It also seeks to determine if the TRAI should make it mandatory for broadcasters to have open access of their contents on non-discriminatory basis to all platforms including Cable TV and DTH.

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