Regulators

Trai proposes to amend Cable TV Act

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NEW DELHI: Broadcast and telecom regulator proposes to amend the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the existing telecom licenses to facilitate growth of IPTV services in the country.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today released the proposed amendments in the Cable Television Networks Act and other material for industry feedback.Giving the reasons for this proposed amendment, which will have to be okayed by the government, Trai said, “During consultation process on issues relating to convergence and competition in broadcasting and telecommunications, certain problems were pointed out, which are likely to arise if IPTV services are to be governed by the existing Cable Television 

Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.”

It added, “The possible solution for resolving the regulatory problems is amending the existing telecom licenses and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.”

After holding a series of meetings with various stakeholders on the issues involved, Trai has finalized a draft of the proposed amendments in relevant rules.It had been pointed out that the following problems are likely to arise if IPTV services are to be governed by the existing Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995:

i. Technological requirement of IPTV to deliver content through a set top box leads to non-compliance with the requirement of Section 4A of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 about free to air channels not needing an addressable system.

ii. Use of different protocols by different companies and lack of standardization for IPTV services violates the requirement of Section 9 of the Cable TV Act about use of equipment conforming to Bureau of Indian Standards.

iii. Applicability of FDI norms, downlinking guidelines and programme codes on a unified licensee providing IPTV services with same content as cable TV needs clarification.

Trai said that the problems have come up as the Cable Television Act was formulated when IPTV service was not even conceived.

One of the amendments proposed by the regulator includes defining `cable service’ as means the transmission by cables of programmes including retransmission by cables of any broadcast television signals, but does not include video service offered under Unified Access Service Licence by the Unified Access Service Licence holders on their networks.

This part is aimed at keeping IPTV services outside the definition of “cable services” so that such service would not get hit by Section 4A(6) of the Cable Television Act on basic tier programming not requiring a box.

The details of the proposed amendments are available on the regulator’s website, www.trai.gov.in, for feedback from the industry.

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