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MIB amends HITs guidelines focusing on infrastructure sharing

It guides how HITS and cable operators can work together

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KOLKATA: The ministry of Information & broadcasting (MIB) has amended the policy guidelines for Headend in the Sky (HITS) operators. According to the newly added guidelines, sharing of transport stream between HITS operators and MSOs will be permitted but on certain conditions.

HITS is a digital distribution platform and provides subscribers with a cheaper  alternative to digital cable TV   (operational expenses of managing multiple head‐ends on the ground are very high)  and DTH.

As per the new guidelines, a HITS operator willing to share its transport stream with an MSO, should ensure that MSO has a valid written interconnection agreement with the concerned broadcasters for distribution of pay TV channels.

The ministry has added two new paragraphs to the existing guidelines. As per the MIB the directive, wherever technically feasible, the HITS operator should share the platform infrastructure on a voluntary basis for distribution of TV channels provided that the signals of the HITS provider are distributed to subscribers through cable operator only and the encryption of signals, addressability and liabilities are not compromised.

 For sharing of infrastructure by a HITS operator with an MSO, the operator will be allowed sharing only on Indian controlled satellites. In addition to that, written permission from the department of space (DOS) would be required in this regard. Sharing of  satellite resources and uplinking infrastructure will be allowed with the written permission of MIB and WPC and NOCC, DoT.

The adherence and compliance with all the provisions of the rules and guidelines issued by MIB and NOCC and WPC, DoT for grant of licence to the HITS operator will be the responsibility of both, the existing operator and the new applicant proposing to share the infrastructure.

The regulator further added that sharing parties may use common hardware for CAS and SMS. But details of such an arrangement should be intimated to MIB and broadcasters 30 days in advance. However, the respective HITS operator, MSO or cable operator will be accountable for the integrity and security of CAS and SMS data pertaining to the respective operator.

To avoid any conflict in payment, each operator sharing the stream should be individually responsible for setting up the system and processes. This move will ensure that the broadcasters can exercise right for disconnection in case of default of payment or due to any other reason in terms of interconnection agreements between the broadcaster and the operator as well as the relevant regulations in place.

“Each operator in the sharing environment should undertake to ensure the encryption of signals and addressability to all the subscribers in all circumstances and provide requisite access for audit or for authorized officers of government wherever demanded,” MIB stated.

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