TDSAT asks TRAI to examine HITS operators’ inter-connect agreements

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has now been asked to examine whether a broadcaster’s RIO should form the basis for negotiations to enter into an interconnect agreement with the distributor of signals.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Arbitration Tribunal (TDSAT), which had earlier asked TRAI to re-examine the issue of Digital Addressable System (DAS) tariffs, also wants to know if the RIO is only a fall back basis in case the negotiations between the broadcaster and the distributor for entering into interconnect agreement otherwise fails.

Summing up the issues that came up for consideration in two cases, the Tribunal asked whether an interconnect agreement between a broadcaster and a distributor of signals on a fixed fee basis, completely dehors the broadcaster’s RIO, can be said to be in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations.

It also asked if it is open to the broadcaster to give discounts, concessions and facilities to distributors of signals on a deal to deal basis or is the broadcaster obliged to frame a standard scheme of discounts, concessions and facilities and make it public so that it may be available to all similarly situated distributors equally.

The Tribunal also asked the status of a Headend In The Sky (HITS) operator vis-a-vis a broadcaster for the purpose of inter-connect arrangements, and whether a HITS operator is comparable to a large MSO operating on a pan India basis.

TDSAT chairman Justice Aftab Alam along with members Kuldip Singh and B B Srivastava were examining two cases filed by Noida Software Technology Park Ltd against Media Pro and Taj Television.

The Tribunal wanted a clear stand from TRAI and also directed that this order should be placed on the Tribunal website in the form of a notice with copies being sent to the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), MSO Alliance and DTH Operators’ Association, as any adjudication of these questions is likely to affect the broadcasting sector as a whole fundamentally.

The Tribunal said it would be open to any stakeholders to intervene and address the Tribunal on the issue.

Listing the matter for further hearing on 11 August, it said any applications for intervention may be filed within one week from today (30 July). 

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