Now, any changes in equity pattern and shareholders' agreement
will have to be done "in consultation" with the government.
This could mean that big brother has the power to cancel a license
if it doesn't approve of the proposed changes in any way even before
they have been put in place.
The other additions to the DTH guidelines are clauses 5.2, 6.5
and 6.6. Some of the amendments also put the onus of keeping on
the right side of the law on the DTH platform managing company and
not on other stakeholders of the industry.
Take clause 5.2, for instance. It says that the licensee shall
"invariably ensure" subscribers of the service do not
have access to any pornographic channel or to secret/anti-national
messaging. "If the licensee fails to do so, the license shall
stand cancelled," the clause adds.
The notification reiterates that the must-provide clause, as suggested
by the sector regulator, is mandatory for DTH services.
Clause 6.5 states a licensee shall not carry the signals of a broadcaster
against whom any regulatory body, tribunal or court has found the
(i)Refused access on a non-discriminatory basis to another DTH
operator contrary to the regulations of TRAI (sector regulator).
(ii)Violated the provisions of any law relating to competition
including the Competition Act.
Exclusivity too has been formally turned into history through clause
6.6, which categorically states a licensee "shall not enter
into any exclusive contract for distribution of TV Channels."
The government has also made it the sole responsibility of a licensee
"to ascertain before carrying its signals on its platform"
whether any broadcaster(s) has violated any of the listed offenses.
"In respect of TV channels already being carried on the platform,
the licensee shall ascertain from every source, including the licensor,
TRAI (sector regulator), tribunal or a court, whether broadcasters
concerned or the channels are in violation of the above conditions.
"If any violation so comes to its notice, the licensee shall
forthwith discontinue to carry the channels of the said broadcaster,"
the government has explained.
The changes made in the guidelines come into effect from the date
of notification and are applicable on license agreements already
This decision has been conveyed to various arms of the government,
including the department of telecommunications, home ministry, finance
ministry and autonomous bodies like the Telecom Regulatory Authority
of India (Trai) and pubcaster Prasar Bharati.
Quizzed on the latest government move, an existing DTH service
provider expressed ignorance. Ditto for a wannabe DTH player.