New Delhi: In a move to check arm-twisting practices and bring in more transparency in broadcasting business, regulator Trai on Friday proposed uniform inter-connection guidelines for transmission of TV channels across all available platforms like cable, DTH and IPTV.
"The Authority is of the view that the common regulatory framework for inter-connection of all types of addressable systems will ensure a level-playing field among different service providers," Trai said in a note explaining draft norms on inter-connection issued today.
At present, two separate regulatory frameworks are applicable for inter-connection of HITS (head-end in the sky operator), IPTV and DTH, and cable TV services.
HITS is a satellite multiplex service that provides cable channels.
In the broadcast sector, there are a number of intermediaries between a broadcaster and the end consumer. The broadcast takes the route of distribution network and reaches viewers either through DTH, cable operator or an IPTV.
As per the Draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Inter-connection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016, a common inter-connection rule when implemented would foster competition, promote orderly growth and result in better quality of services at affordable prices to subscribers.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in the draft has proposed capping of carriage fee charged by distribution networks like DTH players, cable operators for transmitting TV channels at 20 paise per channel per user.
Besides, "no carriage fee is to be paid by a broadcaster if the subscription of the channel is more than or equal to 20 per cent of the subscriber base".
The regulator has proposed prohibition of any exclusive agreement between the broadcaster and the distributor of a channel that can prevent any other distributor from obtaining TV channels of such a broadcaster for distribution.
Similarly, it has proposed to prohibit such exclusive agreements between a distributor of TV channels with a broadcaster that prevents any other broadcasters from obtaining access to the network of such a distributor.
The regulator has proposed "must-carry provision for all addressable systems on first-come first-serve basis".
Trai has also incorporated a provision to curb discrimination among different tiers of TV channel distribution network through discriminatory discounts.
"The distributors of TV channels may offer discounts on the carriage fee rate declared by them not exceeding 35 per cent of the rate of the carriage fee declared," Trai said.
According to Trai, transparency and non-discrimination at various levels of broadcast distribution chain will lead to healthy competition in the sector.
"The DPOs (Distribution Platform Operators) would be able to compete with each other based on their own strengths if the signals of TV channels are provided to them on equal terms," Trai maintained.