Mumbai: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has released its annual report for the year 2020-21. The report contains an overview of the broadcasting sector and a summary of the key initiatives of Trai on regulatory matters with specific reference to the functions mandated to it under the Act.
Over the last few years, Trai has sent a number of recommendations to the department of telecommunications (DoT) and the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) on important issues concerning the growth of broadcasting and cable services in the country. A number of these recommendations have been accepted during the period. “However, many of the important recommendations are still pending for decision/implementation by DoT and MIB which if implemented would have a significant positive impact on the sector,” the telecom regulator said.
Important recommendations that have been accepted by MIB during the year 2020-21 and their likely impact on the sector are detailed below:
(i) Recommendations on “Issues related to New DTH Licenses” were forwarded to the government on 23 July 2014. The implementation of these recommendations will ensure certainty and continuity of business and orderly growth of the DTH sector and will promote a level playing field. After acceptance of these recommendations by MIB, the amendments to DTH License guidelines were issued on 30 December 2020.
(ii) Recommendations on “KYC of DTH Set Top Boxes” forwarded to the government on 24 October 2019 addressed the security concerns for use of DTH boxes outside the country as satellites have footprints beyond geographical boundaries. The acceptance and implementation of these Recommendations will result in standardisation of the verification process and will ensure installation of DTH connection at the address mentioned in CAF and will not load the industry/customer with unnecessary additional requirements and costs.
(iii) Recommendations on “Platform Services offered by DTH Operators” forwarded to the government on 13 November 2019 addressed the issues of bringing platform services under a regulatory framework and providing transparent information to consumers about platform services. Amendments to DTH License guidelines have been issued by MIB on 30 December 2020 whereby DTH operators are permitted to operate platform services channels to a maximum of five per cent of their total channel carrying capacity.
Recommendations forwarded to MIB that are still pending with the government as of 31 March 2021 are as follows:
1. Recommendations on restrictions on certain entities from entering the business of broadcasting and distribution of TV channels.
2. Recommendations on Issues related to radio audience measurement and ratings in India.
3. Recommendations on issues related to digital terrestrial broadcasting (DTT) in India.
4. Recommendations on sharing infrastructure in the TV broadcasting distribution sector.
5. Recommendations on issues related to digital radio broadcasting in India.
6. Recommendations on issues relating to uplinking and downlinking of television channels in India.
7. Recommendations on reserve price for auction of FM radio channels in new cities.
8. Recommendations on interoperability of set-top box.
9. Recommendations on review of television audience measurement and rating system in India.
10. Recommendations on a regulatory framework for platform services (PS) for MSO.
The Trai felt that a periodic review of the implementation status of all recommendations of the authority should be done at the highest level. With an objective to put in place a mechanism whereby there is a periodic review of the implementation of pending recommendations of Trai in DoT/MIB and to create a central repository for real-time tracking of the status of all recommendations, the regulator has developed a recommendation status portal which can be accessed jointly by Trai, DoT, and MIB.