The must-provide clause or making available channels on a non-discriminatory
basis to all platforms has been vehemently opposed by most pay broadcasters
like Sony Entertainment TV India, Discovery and Star India. There
has even been talk of somebody moving court if Trai insists on the
clause as being described in the draft circulated by the Authority.
The broadcast industry’s understanding is that such a clause leaves
no scope for marketing exclusive content.
For example, Sony Entertainment TV India, in its representation
made earlier on must-provide, had conveyed to Trai that it would,
in effect, be tantamount to copyright infringement if creativity
is regulated and denying traditional rights of broadcasters.
Likening its position to a content provider’s, Trai sources had
told indiantelevision.com that Sony, in its response, has stated
that the draft interconnect regulation does nothing to address the
last mile problem and also refers to the lack of any regulation
to effect the “must carry” clause. The argument being must-provide
would decrease competition.
Why so? According to Sony, content is the main legal differentiator
for this business and that’s why it has not agreed to be carried
by Dish TV, 20 per cent owned by Zee Telefilms, owing to the latter’s
inability to give satisfactory answers to issues like piracy and
other commercial concerns.
Sony has also quoted extensively from global norms like Trade Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Berne Convention
for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (the Berne Convention),
treaties ratified by India, in support of its claims as to why must-provide
should not be enforced.
Well, the regulator has heard out all the divergent viewpoints
being expressed and has made its decision. Must provide will stay.
Await a detailed report that follows.