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Viewers can select 100 free-to-air channels for basic plan

Last Updated: Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 00:47

New Delhi: Ahead of roll out of cable TV digitisation, sectoral tribunal TDSAT Friday upheld certain broadcast regulatory clauses allowing customers to select a combination of 100 free-to-air channels for basic plan.

The tribunal largely consented with the tariff order and regulation of TRAI. It also gave a go ahead to the TRAI's revenue sharing mechanism between the Local/Area cable operator and the Multi-System Operators.

The tribunal also set aside some restriction put on MSOs by the Telecom Regulatory Authority on placement fee, number of channels and carriage fee.

The TDSAT was of view that MSOs can charge placement fee from broadcasters for keeping their channels in a particular slot and TRAI's regulation to curb it was "bad in law".

The TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha said, "The restriction placed on the MSO for demanding placement fees in terms of May 2012 Regulation are bad in law as the same restriction is not applicable for the DTH operator. Placement charges, if any, will depend upon the mutual agreement between the broadcasters and the MSO."

"The direction that the MSOs must set up head-ends having carrying capacity of 500 channels is set aside.

"If the market forces play an important and significant role in the matter of carrying capacity of the MSO, the same may not be required to be regulated," said TDSAT in its 77-page-long judgement.

Cable services in the country's four metros are slated to go completely digital by November 1 as per the deadline set by the government.

TDSAT also set aside restriction put by TRAI on the issue of carriage fee.

"Clause 3(5) of "The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable Television Systems) Regulation 2012(No. 9 of 2012)" relating to demand of carriage fee by the MSO is set aside as the said provision is not there for the DTH operators and MSOs in Non-CAS areas," said TDSAT.

TDSAT's order came over a batch of petitions filed by the LCOs, MSOs and News Broadcasters Associations along with some of its member including TV Friday Network, TV 18 Broadcast, Times Global Broadcasting and News 24 Broadcast India.

TRAI had on April 30 had issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Fourth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2012 to digitalise the cable channels delivery system in all metros by June 30, 2012.

The regulator has also fixed tariff rules for cable TV, LCOs and MSOs by its Digital Addressable Systems Regulation and Tariff Orders, which has been opposed by the MSOs and the local cable operators.


First Published: Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 00:47
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