New Consumer centric Digital Cable TV regulations released by TRAI


Telecom Regulatory Authority of India yesterday released regulations for Digital Cable & Broadcasting services – and it should put smile of Television viewers. It also addresses many disputes between Cable Operators & Channel Broadcasters.

The regulations called “Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable Television Systems) Regulations, 2012” brings about consumer favoring rules like offering minimum of 100 Free to Air (FTA) channels and ceiling on the minimum pricing for cable services.

Digital Cable TV

Key Regulations for Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems

– All channels (pay and free-to air) to be offered on a-la-carte basis to subscribers

– Every provider should offer a Basic Service Tier (BST) to all TV consumers. A BST should have minimum of 100 free-to air (FTA) channels having at least 5 channels of each genre in Hindi, English and regional language of the concerned region.

– BST will also have 18 channels of Public Broadcaster and Lok Sabha channels

– A consumer does not have obligation to subscribe to the BST and can form his own package of a maximum of 100 FTA channels. The cable Operator cannot charge more than Rs. 100 for this service. Essentially a subscriber will receive minimum of 100 FTA channels for Rs. 100

– A Multi System Operator (one who provides signals to local Cable Operator ) has to have bouquet of minimum 500 Channels from January 2013.

TRAI has also come up with ceilings on how much maximum charges a particular channel can have – the sum of the a-la-carte rates of channels, forming part of a bouquet, shall not exceed 1.5 times the rate of the bouquet. Further, the a-la-carte rate of any channel shall not exceed 3 times the average channel rate of the bouquet.

Along with Digital Addressable Cable Television regulations, TRAI has also set down guidelines for Broadcasting and cable services to reduce the disputes between Multi system Operator & Channel Broadcaster.

Key regulations for Broadcasting and Cable Services

  • TRAI has banned exclusivity between Multi system Operator (one who provides signals to local Cable Operator ) & Broadcaster. Meaning that a particular channel cannot have rights to be be exclusively shown on only one single operator. The rules define that all Multi system Operator should have rights to any channel. The same is true vice-a-versa
  • A Multi system operator cannot demand for carriage fees to beam a particular channel
  • And Broadcaster cannot ask for a fixed slot as a pre-condition for providing signals. Many popular channels demand Multi system Operators to show in first 20 channels as it conjures up high viewing.
  • Every Multisystem Operator will have a publish standard interconnect offer on its website and specify the technical and commercial terms and conditions for providing access to its network by the
    broadcaster and submit a copy to the TRAI.
  • Every broadcaster has to offer all its channels to the multi system operator on a-la-carte basis.
  • A multi system operator cannot make signals available of TV channels to any linked local cable operator without entering into a written interconnection agreement.

Overall, TRAI has ensures that with these regulations TV viewer’s interest are taken care of and there is a level playing field for all Channel broadcasters as well as MSO’s and Cable Operators.

Here are is the full PDF for TRAI regulations for Digital Cable services.

  1. PrashanthSuvarna says

    Two important issues dog the ministry as far as local news n/w,s are concerned. Since it is evident that the min has been exercising tight controls on other sat based channels regarding various factors like obscenity,emphasis on the type and quantum of news carried in the desired manner amongst other things, it is surprising that the same enthusiasm isn,t shown to PF services like local news and entertainment program producers many of whom are gathering immense clout and often indulge in misinforming and distorting the real issue to suit its own vested interests very conveniently.While much noise is being made about the need for the presence of such a channel it is obvious that it is very hard for the I&B Ministry to keep a sharp eye on what supposedly passing off as genuine news may more often be shady material shaped as per their own interests. Secondly as these service providers provide the same only to the people as just as any other channel then I feel two points must be heard and a solution sought. the same rules that apply to all other program providers must be applied here too along with the order to them to maintain a min technical quality which is otherwise appalling.The second is that just as all channels / programs must provide the same to any catv op who demands it rather than dissipating it only through their chosen networks.This is an important point as it leads to skewed distribution of the same very obviously compromising the opposite operator, failing which the said distribution of the same over their chosen networks should be put on hold. This will not allow any one single n/w or individual or Mso from what is often perceived as an important addition to the different assortment of channels that are offered to the subscribers. Finally a close look should be kept on the mushrooming proliferation of some very questionable holy / divine channels whose promoters themselves in the garb of Ngo/social worker are a very questionable types of people whose programs can very easily damage the harmonious social fabric that has held good for a long time allowing various other groups to snoop and fish in these troubled waters and creating all other complications that could have been avoided.One easy solution is to allow them on a balanced one by one approach only.Only one channel of each community should be allowed in order to preserve the delicate balance. Had the Ministry put its foot down as and when the matter had come up the matter would have rested in peace and this sort of complications would not have happened. They are very much to be blamed for the huge salvo of questionable religious material that are being approved and broadcast all over. Only time will tell the possible outcome of allowing such programs without ascertaining the antecedents and motives of their respective promoters. Needless to say there is tremendous mischief quotient in the aforementioned channels and the faster the ministry acts the better the world will be for all of us.

  2. Technary says

    100 Free to Air Channels means a wide smile to the Doordarshan DTH viewers.
    Hope that most of the people will benefit from these new regulations from TRAI. Thanks for sharing!

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