Report on Shemaroo

TRAI's final take on regulation of platform services offered by DTH, cable operators

A maximum of 15 PS channels may be offered

KOLKATA: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finalised recommendations on platform services offered by distribution platform operators (DPOs) after a long consultation process. For some time now, the authority and the ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) have been working on the regulation of platform services.

"Platform services (PS) are programs transmitted by Distribution Platform Operators 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,” TRAI has agreed with the MIB definition. A channel with downlinking permission will always be considered as TV channels.

A maximum of 15 PS channels may be offered by MSOs, IPTV operators and HITS operators.

DPOs who wish to run PS will have to get security clearance. However, if programmes run on the channels are detrimental to India's national security or to the public interest, MIB may ask the DPO to stop distribution of the PS channel or the programming service, even cancel the registration. Further, MIB may establish a procedure to review the security clearance of all DPOs (who offer PS) including those wherever there is any change in their ownership/control.

TRAI has recommended that MIB needs to specify compliance structure to ensure that those providing platform services make full disclosure on ownership status and comply to the Programme and Advertising codes. It has also recommended that any person/ entity desirous of providing local news and current affairs as PS, or is already providing such services, must be incorporated as a company under the Indian Companies Act, 2013.

Such channels have to be categorised under the genre ‘platform services' in the Electronic Programmable Guide (EPG), and the respective maximum retail price (MRP) of the platform service shall be displayed in the EPG. A provision for putting a caption as 'platform services' may be required to distinguish those from the linear channels, TRAI has recommended. The government may decide the caption in a size which is visually readable by the consumers.

However, the operators should keep PS exclusive to themselves, it can not be share with other players. If the direction is violated, MIB or TRAI can immediately direct to stop the transmission. In extreme cases, MIB may cancel the registration. 

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