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Trai releases recommendations for broadcast sector

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MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: The cable and broadcast regulator has finally released its long awaited recommendations on the "Issues relating to Broadcasting and Distribution of TV Channels".



The recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which will have to be ratified by the information and broadcasting ministry before being made implementable, will have far-reaching implications on how the broadcast industry functions.

 

 

Among the key points that a quick perusal of the Trai document offered were:



1. Subscription rates prevalent as on 26 December 2003 shall be the ceiling, until final determination by Trai.

2. The subscription rate ceiling will be lifted from 26 December 2004. The amount of rate hike will, however be determined by Trai, which is preparing to review the rates and only allow an increase linked to inflation. This rate revision exercise is expected to be completed in November.

3. Pay channels launched after 26 December 2003 should not be allowed to join a bouquet. Any new pay channels may be offered to the cable operator individually or as a new bouquet of channels which are not covered by the ceiling.

 

The same restriction would apply for those channels that were free-to-air on the cut-off date and later converted to pay mode.



These new pay channels may be offered to the cable operator individually or as a new bouquet of channels which are not covered by the ceiling. Thus for those consumers who do not get the new pay channels the ceilings already prescribed would continue. Where the consumers get the new pay channels, the extent to which the ceilings referred to above can be exceeded would be limited to the rates for the new pay channels.



On the issue of addressability, as already reported by indiantelevision.com, three models have been proposed. Reason for these options: one system of addressability cannot be feasible for the whole country, though in the long run the system is the best way to bring about transparency in the industry.



Patrons of indiantelevision.com will probably feel a sense of deja vu when perusing the proposals Trai is putting forward on addressability since they have been already covered extensively under the headlines "Trai out, Govt. in for deciding addressability issue" and "Trai offers government 3 options on CAS".



To recap however, this is the gist of what has been detailed in the proposals as far as addressability is concerned:



1. Making available content on a non-discriminatory basis to all platforms.



Interestingly, taking a leaf from the telecom industry, the broadcast and cable sector regulator also feels that inter-connect agreements (read commercial agreements) between a local cable op and a MSO, and a MSO and a broadcaster be registered with a designated authority and should be in the public domain in those areas where conditional access system (CAS) would be implemented. As part of this effort, the Authority will also issue shortly an Interconnection Regulation.



2. The regulation also provides for a minimum of one month's notice before disconnecting signals. Such notice is also required to be published in two newspapers to give time to the consumers to obtain relief.

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