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Trai to issue interconnect draft in next few days

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NEW DELHI: The Broadcast and cable regulator - Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) - will issue a draft of the interconnection agreements in a day or two for the industry stakeholders' feedback before a formal order is issued, according to the chief regulator.



"There are some issues relating to interconnection agreements that have been brought to our notice by the industry. So, before issuing a formal order on the subject, we would bring out a draft for feedback," Trai chairman Pradip Baijal told indiantelevision.com.



Asked if details of the proposed interconnection agreement are being delayed because of criticism that it could encourage indirect monopoly and also to address the issue of channels hopping bouquets, Baijal said, "Those certainly are issues that need to be addressed."



He, however, ruled out a long delay in issuing the final order. "What we will be issuing is not a consultation paper. It's a draft of the interconnect agreements and in the final order we may incorporate some valid suggestions from the stakeholders of the industry," Baijal explained, adding, that this precaution is being taken as, unlike in telecom sector,

the number of service providers are much more in the broadcast and cable sector.



According to the former-bureaucrat-turned-regulator of the telecom, broadcast and cable sectors, the final order on the interconnection agreements should get issued over the next fortnight.



In its 1 October comprehensive recommendations on the broadcast and cable sector, Trai had dwelt broadly on various issues relating to the interconnection agreement aspect. The issues highlighted by the regulator in its report under the heading Interconnection Agreements, which is yet to be accepted by the government, were as follows:



· The revenue sharing arrangements among broadcasters, MSOs and LCO (local cable ops) shall take place out of the proceeds of the amount payable by the subscriber.

· The interconnect agreements should clearly indicate the maximum retail price (MRP) of a pay channel or bouquet of channels, distribution margins for MSOs/independent cable operators. Similarly the agreements between MSOs and LCOs should clearly indicate MRP and margins for LCOs.

· The service providers shall mutually negotiate and decide on the revenue arrangements

· Where parties are not able to arrive at an agreement within 30 days of initiating such a process for revenue sharing, the Authority on the request of either of the party, will issue regulations under the powers conferred upon it under section 11(1)(b)(ii) and (iv) of Trai Act.

· All MSOs and LCOs will file interconnect agreements between them with the authorised officers for registration.

· All Broadcasters, DTH operators, HITS operators, and MSOs will file agreements between them to deliver the TV channels, with the Authority for registration

· TRAI will shortly come out with a revised regulation on registration of interconnection agreements.

· No broadcaster or MSO shall cut off the signals to an MSO or cable operator without giving at least one month's notice giving in brief the reasons for the proposed action. Such notice shall also be given in two local newspapers having wide circulation so that consumers are also aware of the dispute and can take steps to protect their interests. The Authority will shortly be issuing regulations on general principles of

interconnection. These will also include the provision relating to disconnection of signals.

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