TRAI's new regulation instructs broadcasters & distributors to file RIO

It would enable TRAI to maintain register of interconnect.

MUMBAI: According to the new regulation by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), broadcasters and distributors of television channels are required to file all the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO). TRAI has recently issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements and all such other matters Regulations, 2019 with an aim to promote transparency and non-discrimination in the Broadcasting sector

“The primary objective of register of Interconnect regulations is to formulate the contours of a reporting system for the service providers so that they can report details of interconnection agreements including commercial details to the authority. It would enable the authority to maintain register of interconnect as per provisions of TRAI Act. Presently the Register of Interconnect Agreement (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Regulation, 2004 is in force,” said TRAI.

To simplify the process, avoid duplication of reports, and formulate its view on various issues such as accessibility of information of register, the authority had issued a consultation paper on 'The Register of Interconnection Agreements (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Regulations, 2016' on 23 March 2016.

Based on the comments received in the consultation process and analysis of the developments in the market pursuant to implementation of the new regulatory framework, draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements Regulations, 2019 was issued by TRAI on 22 April 2019. Comments received on this draft regulation were posted on TRAI's website. Subsequently, an Open House Discussion (OHD) was also held on 10 June 2019 in Delhi. Based on the comments received and analysis of the developments in the market pursuant to implementation of the new regulatory framework these regulations have been prepared.

The objective of this regulation is to promote transparency and non-discrimination in the broadcasting sector. As per the new regulation, all the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) are required to be filed by every broadcaster and the distributor of television channels. Initially the distributor having average active subscriber base below one lakh have been exempted from the obligation of reporting details of interconnection agreements to promote ease of business and reducing regulatory burden on such MSOs with limited resources. The new regulation envisages online filing in electronic mode. The authority has specified that the new regulations will come in force in 120 days, except as regards submission of information related to compliance officer. The intervening period will enable the service provider to prepare for easy compliance.

If any broadcaster or distributor fails to furnish the information or certificate or fails to verify the reported information, as required under regulation 3, by the due date, it shall, without prejudice to the terms and conditions of its license/permission/registration, or the act or rules or regulations or order made or direction issued thereunder, be liable to pay, by way of financial disincentive, an amount of rupees one thousand per day for default up to thirty days beyond the due date and an additional amount of rupees two thousand per day in case the default continues beyond thirty days from the due date, as the authority may, by order, direct.

Provided that the financial disincentive levied by the authority under this sub regulation shall in no case exceed Rs 2 lakh.

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