TRAI Will Regulate DTH Firms Like Tata Sky, Airtel With Strict Rules; Issues Draft Recommendations (Full Details)

Previously, guidelines on the regulatory framework for platform services offered by DTH were issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Telecom regulator TRAI, has now issued its recommendations on the same.

It recommended that the programs which are transmitted to any of direct-to-home (DTH), Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) operators or multiple system operators (MSOs) shall not be permitted to be shared, for that matter directly or indirectly by any other distribution platform operator (DPO) and shall be exclusive.

On 2 February, TRAI said in its recommendations that MIB/TRAI can issue directions to immediately stop the transmission of a programme which is found on another platform. The power to cancel the registration of such a platform service of the DTH operator/MSOs/IPTV operator is also vested in the MIB.

MSO can be described as an authorised service provider, providing cable television services to its subscribers.

TRAI Recommendations

The ministry holds the view that anybody registered as a DPO, either with the MIB or with a post office, shall be eligible to carry platform service channels, provided that the ministry is able to specify compliance structure to ensure that those providing the service make full disclosure on ownership status and comply to the programme and advertising codes. This view has been accepted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

TRAI added that any entity or a person who desires to provide local news as well as current affairs as platform service, or for that matter is already carrying out such an endeavor, must be incorporated as a company under the Indian Companies Act, 2013.

A maximum of 15 platform service channels may be offered by multi-system operators, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) operators, as per the recommendations of TRAI. On December 7, a consultation paper seeking views and comments on the regulatory framework recommended for DTH services was issued by TRAI.

Till December 19, 2020, written response from the stakeholders is being sought and till December 26, 2020, counter comments are being sought. Recommendations were first issued by TRAI about the same back in 2014.

An option to activate/deactivate platform services as prescribed in the orders/ directions/regulations shall be provided by the DTH/MSOs/IPTV operators, says TRAI.

TRAI said that time to time, the in the Electronic Programmable Guide (EPG), platform services channels shall be categorised under the genre ‘Platform Services’. The respective maximum retail price (MRP) of the platform service shall be displayed in the EPG against each platform service.

While they run their PS, the security clearance of all MSOs, who wish to offer platform services and were not security cleared at the time of registration will be obtained by the ministry says TRAI.

Withdraw Distribution If Inimical To National Security:-

The MIB may require the MSO to withdraw from distribution of PS, in case it is inimical to India’s national security or to the public interest. A procedure to review the security clearance of all DPOs, must be established by Information and Broadcasting Ministry, recommended TRAI. A requisite undertaking from the DPOs at the time of granting permission for offering platform service may be obtained by the I&B Ministry. TRAI said that the authority has finalized its recommendations after considering all comments received from stakeholders during the consultation process as well as further analysis of the issues.

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