Trai yet to decide on DTH architecture

NEW DELHI: Broadcast and cable regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which is slated to come out with its recommendations on the cable industry by next month, is still undecided whether to have open architecture for KU-band direct-to-home TV service or not.

Though issues related to DTH were not scheduled to be discussed during a meeting Trai recently had with pay broadcasters, it did come up and a representative from the regulator dwelt on the matter in passing.

What's more, the Trai representative at the forementioned meeting, while dwelling on the issue of 'must provide' and 'must carry' clause, said a final decision ought not to be taken till the time another service provider started a DTH venture.

At the moment, India has only one DTH service, Dish TV, promoted by the Subhash Chandra-controlled ASC Enterprise and Zee Telefilms. Though Doordarshan may start its DTH service before the Tata-Star combine, Dish TV's main competitor is the latter.

Contacted by to verify whether DTH-related matters were brought up at the recent Trai meeting, a senior executive of Zee Telefilms confirmed the development, saying that Trai's stand on both the issues were "unwarranted for the occasion" and put Dish TV at a disadvantage vis-à-vis any new entrant in the sector.

However, the Zee executive also attempted to soft peddle the matter adding that since DTH is a new technology in India even the regulator would need some more time to complete studying all the issues.

Attempts made by to elicit a response from Trai proved futile till the time of writing this report.

Taking into account that Trai may be just attempting to sound out interested players on various DTH issues, it would be interesting to see the final stand taken by the regulator on the issues mentioned above. The niggling

thought of the present government stripping Trai of powers to hold sway over the broadcast and cable industry, notwithstanding. (I&B minister Jaipal Reddy is more interested in a separate broadcast regulator.)

It is also understood that Zee has conveyed to Trai that it would like to make a separate submission on open vs. closed architecture (during initial days Star lobbied against open architecture) and must-provide clause.

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