TRAI advises govt to aid TV infra sharing, ease 'permissions'

NEW DELHI: The Central Government should encourage sharing of infrastructure, wherever technically feasible, in TV broadcasting distribution network services, on voluntary basis including sharing of head-end used for cable TV services and transport streams transmitting signals of TV channels, among MSOs.

In its recommendation to infrastructure sharing in the broadcasting sector, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said the MSO registration condition regarding 'having an independent digital head-end of his own and provide digital addressable cable services from his head-end' should be suitably amended so as to enable sharing of head-end.

The Headend-in-the-sky (HITS) or the MSOs should be allowed to share the HITS platforms on voluntary basis, in flexible ways, for distribution of TV channels. The sharing of transport streams transmitted by HITS platform, between HITS operators and MSOs should be permitted.

Direct-to-Home operators willing to share DTH platform and transport stream of TV channels, on voluntary basis should be allowed to do so with prior written intimation to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and TRAI to ensure efficient use of scarce satellite resources.

The distributors of TV channels should be permitted to share the common hardware for their Subscriber Management Systems applications and Conditional Access Systems applications.

While sharing the infrastructure with another distributor of TV channels, the
responsibility of compliance to the relevant Acts/ rules/ regulations/ lic·ense/ orders/ directions/ guidelines would continue to be of each distributor of TV channels independently.

The recommendations are the result of a reference from the Ministry of 29 April 2016. The Ministry had also sought recommendation of the Authority on the amendment that may be required in the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and Rules made thereunder to facilitate the infrastructure sharing.

The Authority examined the issues in sharing of infrastructure in TV broadcasting distribution sector comprehensively for all types of predominant TV broadcasting distribution networks. TRAI undertook a comprehensive consultation with the stakeholders by issuing pre-consultation paper, consultation paper, and conducting an open house discussion with them before finalizing its recommendations on "Sharing of Infrastructure in Television Broadcasting Distribution Sector".

At the outset, TRAI said TV broadcasting sector has witnessed tremendous growth in the last decade. There has been an exponential increase in the number of satellite TV channels.

The objectives of the recommendations are to ease policy environment for facilitating sharing of infrastructure in TV broadcasting distribution sector on voluntary basis. The sharing of the infrastructure in TV broadcasting distribution sector would not only help in enhancing available distribution network capacities but also would result in reduced Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Operative Expenditure (OPEX) for the service providers thereby bringing down the price of broadcasting services to subscribers.

In addition, it would lower the entry barrier for new service providers and provide space on broadcasting distribution networks for niche channels- necessary for satisfying the diverse needs of general public - to reach targeted customers. Lowering of entry barriers in the distribution space could propel competition in the market and more choices to consumers due to presence of multiple operators in single territory.

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