Regulators

B'cast, telecom industry divided on IPTV norms

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NEW DELHI: A majority of broadcast industry stakeholders are against IPTV separated from cable service and have said this is likely to create more problems in an already vexed industry.

A consultation paper issued by the broadcast regulator on IPTV and amendment in the Cable TV Act has drawn varied comments from stakeholders, including that IPTV should not be separated from cable TV and laws regulating it.

“IPTV is similar to cable services in terms of content and mode of delivery. It would be appropriate to categorize it as a cable service rather than a telecom service under (the) Telegraph Act,” DTH licence holder ASC Enterprises has said.

Agreeing with ASC is MSO Alliance, an apex body of multi-system operators in the country, which has sated that IPTV should not be dubbed a different service from cable TV.

“Given the nature of IPTV services, which is akin to cable services, the effort on the part of regulator should be to propose amendments which would serve the purpose of keeping IPTV within cable services domain, rather than to suggest the ones which would take them away from the Cable Network Regulation Act,” MSO Alliance has said in reply to a consultation paper issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

On the other hand, Star has said that treating IPTV differently from cable services, as had been suggested by Trai in its consultation paper, would give undue advantage to telecom companies that have been proposing to start IPTV services.

“In the absence of parity in FDI norms, telecom operators would continue to enjoy better access to the capital required for digital broadband services. This would be to the detriment of other service providers like cable and DTH,” Star has informed Trai.

Presently in India, foreign investment in cable TV is capped at 49 per cent, while the government has okayed a proposal to raise the limit in telecom services to 74 per cent.

Trai had invited comments from industry stakeholders on proposed amendments in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and existing telecom licenses for facilitation of growth of IPTV services.

The basic intention behind the proposed amendments in the Cable Television (Regulation) Act, 1995 was to keep the IPTV service outside the definition of `cable services’.

This means that IPTV service providers would not be covered in the definition of `cable operator’ and the Unified Access Service network used for provision of IPTV services will not get covered by the definition of `cable television network’ under the Cable Act.

The 13 stakeholders that had got back to Trai with their comments on the issue include the following: NDS, ASC Enterprises Ltd, MSO Alliance, Cable Operators Federation of India, Hathway Cable & Datacom Private Limited, Reliance Infocomm Ltd, Ortel Communications Ltd, Zee Network, Star India, Tata Teleservices Ltd and the Internet Service Providers’ Association of India

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