TRAI Wants A 3rd Party App For Selecting TV Channels; Is This A Whip For Cable/DTH Providers?

A new app for selecting TV channels?
A new app for selecting TV channels?

Remember how some time back every cable/DTH connection holder, through advertisement on television, radios and every digital platform imaginable were advertised that according to the country’s telecom regulator, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) announced new regulations for the television and broadcasting sector, as per which consumers were at their choice to select only those channels which they wished to pay for.

Unfortunately, after TRAI’s notified framework came into effect since December 29, 2018, there have been innumerable complaints registered from customers that there has come difficulties in different domains to select from this available choice of channels.

Now, TRAI has proposed a draft regulation, wherein every DTH or cable operator should create a sort of channel selection system for making the procedure simpler for customers.

The Problems Faced by Customers

In March 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India notified the ‘New Regulatory Framework’ for Broadcasting and Cable services, which came into effect on December 29, 2018. As per this notification, the customers had the freedom to select the television channels of their choice and let the broadcasting company know the same.

Easier said than done, TRAI soon started receiving a plethora of complaints regarding improper execution of this rule. Despite making all efforts, time and again, it is being brought to notice of the authority that consumers are not able to make real choice of TV channels.

In these complaints, the customers mentioned that the call centres of the distribution platform operators (DPOs) also didn’t help them with choosing the desired TV channels. TRAI said it had made several attempts to resolve the large consumer grievance – users were unable to choose television channels that they wanted to see – that was highlighted by several complaints.

TRAI Comes to The Rescue

In order to address the issue, TRAI said it felt the need to have a channel selection system developed by a third party to facilitate easy channel selection by consumers. This means that it will ask the third party companies to create apps, which will help the customers to understand the whole interface better and shall more efficiently help them in selecting their desired channel.

The cable operators along with DTH (direct-to-home) providers are together known as distribution platform operators (DPOs). Through this draft regulation, TRAI is seeking the comments of the stakeholders on the issue of developing of the application by third parties and consequent sharing of information using application programming interface between DPOs and consumers.

This means every DPO must enable customers to choose from its plethora of channels and bouquets through its own or third-party mobile app or web portal. Any third party can create an app which consumers can use, irrespective of their service provider, to choose the channels they want to watch at any time, and thus help them reduce their monthly spends on TV subscription, says the secretary of TRAI.

This draft regulation was introduced on Friday and is held open for suggestions of the stakeholders up to August 22, 2019.

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