TRAI issues an amendment to the Interconnection Regulation for Broadcasting & Cable Services

The TRAI today issued a Regulation to amend the Interconnection Regulation dated 10.12.2004. The Interconnection Regulation covers arrangements among service providers for interconnection and revenue share, for all broadcasting and cable services in India. With the experience of more than one and a half years after issue of the Interconnection Regulation a need was felt to clarify as well as expand the scope of the same so as to minimize the doubts and disputes/ litigation.

The Authority followed its consultative approach for amendment of the interconnection regulation by issuing a Consultation Note on March 21, 2006, a Consultation Paper on May 11, 2006 and holding Open House Discussions in Mumbai on June 16, 2006 and in Delhi on June 19, 2006. After taking into consideration the comments received on the consultation paper as well as the comments made during the course of the Open House Discussions, the Regulation has been amended by the TRAI.

The main amendments made in the Interconnection Regulation dated 10.12.2004 are:

1. A notice period of three weeks has been prescribed for disconnection of TV channel signals by a broadcaster to any distributor of TV channels. The requirement of issue of a three week notice has also been extended to the distributors of TV channels prior to disconnection of the re-transmission o fany TV channel.

2. Issue of public notice through newspapers has been made compulsory prior to disconnection of TV channel signals. Broadcaster/multi system operator/ distributor of TV channels are required to inform the consumers through scrolls on the concerned channel(s), but issue of notice in newspapers shall be compulsory.

3. It has been mandated that the broadcaster/multi system operator or their agents/ intermediaries to whom a request for providing TV channel signals is made, should either provide the signals on mutually agreed terms, or specify the terms and conditions on which they are willing to provide TV channel signals, within sixty days from the date of the request.

4. Methodology to arrive at the subscriber base of each distributor of TV channels at the time of first agreement, during the validity of agreement and at the time of renewal of agreement has also been laid down for agreements between the broadcasters and multi system operators and between multi system operators and cable operators.

5. The Authority has prescribed that all broadcasters shall publish their Reference Interconnect Offers (RIO) describing, inter-alia, the technical and commercial conditions for interconnection for non-addressable systems and submit copies of the same to the Authority. The reference interconnect offer so published by the broadcaster will form the basis for all interconnection agreements to be executed thereafter.

6. Broadcasters will be required to give one months notice for conversion of Free To Air Channels to Pay channels and vice versa.

7. Parties to an interconnection agreement for supply of TV channel signals

will be required to renew their interconnection agreements within three months of the expiry of the original agreement.

8. Issue of invoices by broadcasters /multi system operators or their agents/ intermediaries has been made compulsory for payment received from any distributor of TV channels for providing TV channel signals. The monthly invoice shall clearly specify the arrears and current dues along with the due date for payment of the same.

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