Regulators

RIO is a non-discriminatory agreement between parties under DAS: Taj

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NEW DELHI: On the third day of the Hathway Cable & Datacom and Taj Television hearing in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Taj Television described agreements under the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) as ‘a uniform, non-discriminatory mechanism which ensures an agreement between parties.’

Taj Counsel Pratibha Singh also told the TDSAT that RIO was a kind of wholesale rate in the scheme of digital addressable system (DAS). According to her, if no agreement was reached during negotiations, then the payment for TV channels in DAS areas would be fixed as specified in the RIO.

“It is a default programme on a computer – if there is nothing by way of agreement, then there is RIO,” she said.

In the ongoing hearing before the Tribunal in the cases linked to Taj TV, she said that it was also clear that the rates under DAS were 35 per cent of those under analogue, which was later raised to 42 per cent.

Referring to an earlier case in TDSAT, Singh said that though the Quality of Service regulations under DAS tended to curtail freedom, they had protected the consumer until there was adequate competition.

The Telecom (Broadcasting and cable Services) Interconnect (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations 2012 was clear in section 5(16) that negotiations have to be held.

She reiterated that Hathway had been told on 26 June through a letter that since the negotiations had failed, Taj TV was forwarding a signed RIO. Hathway had also been told that they would be according to RIO if they sent a subscriber report.

She alleged that the multi system operator (MSO) had not reduced the prices of the packages even after receiving the RIO.

She also said that Hathway had failed to respond to the letter sent on 26 June until Taj TV stopped the signals from 1 August. “After failed negotiations, Hathway as late as 18 August claimed that Taj TV was not negotiating despite having admitted earlier that negotiations had been held,” she clarified.

She said it was unfortunate that MSOs and local cable operators felt that they did most of the work and their share should be larger. “They overlook the fact that the broadcaster pays for content, spectrum, government taxes, journalists and producers and so on,” she concluded.

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