Regulators

TRAI releases consultation paper on platform services by DTH operators

The authority aims to create a regulatory framework for platform services.

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on platform services (PS) offered by DTH operators. The authority has invited comments from stakeholders by 27 September 2019.

The consultation paper has been released with an aim to address the issues related to platform services (PS) and to come up with a regulatory framework for it.

TRAI has received a reference from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) dated 2 July 2019 wherein the authority has been requested to give its considered recommendations related to platform services with reference to DTH guidelines. Some of its discussion points are listed here. DTH operators offering platform service channels have to ensure that the same content is not shared with any other DPO. The one-time registration fee to be enhanced to Rs 1 lakh per PS channel as against Rs 1000 per PS channel recommended earlier by the authority. The maximum number of PS channels that a DTH operator can offer and platform service could be sequenced separately from the regular channels.

“India has a large base of pay TV subscribers. Predominantly, the pay TV services are being delivered through cable TV and direct to home (DTH) systems. Other modes of TV broadcasting such as internet protocol TV (IPTV), head-end in the sky (HITS) have minuscule subscriber base as compared to the cable TV and DTH systems. All TV channel distribution platform operators (DPOs), i.e. MSOs, DTH and HITS operators, operate certain kind of programming services which are specific to each platform and are not obtained from broadcasters. All these platform-specific services being offered by DPOs but not obtained from broadcasters have been referred to as platform services,” explained TRAI in its release.

It further said, “DPOs use PS to offer innovative services and product differentiation. It also acts as a unique selling proposition (USP) for DPOs and also helps them in meeting the specific needs of their subscribers.”

“Unlike private satellite TV channels, which are permitted and regulated under the uplinking/ downlinking guidelines of MIB, Platform services (PS) is not subject to any specific regulations or guidelines as of now,” said TRAI in its consultation paper.

Earlier, the authority in its recommendations on a regulatory framework for platform services dated 19 November 2014 had, inter alia recommended that the definition of PS shall be “Platform services (PS) are programs transmitted by Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) exclusively to their own subscribers and does not include Doordarshan channels and registered TV channels. PS shall not include foreign TV channels that are not registered in India.”

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