labels: entertainment, advertising/branding
DTH operators can pick channels of choice, rules TRAInews
03 September 2007

Mumbai: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed all broadcasters not to compel DTH operators to buy the entire bouquet of channels but allow them pick according to their choice.

While TRAI''s decision would ensure delivery of quality channels at the DTH subscriber home, it could intensify the survival struggle of some non-performing or new channels, which have been piggy-riding popular channels in the bouquet offered by the broadcaster.

The new regulation, Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Fourth Amendment) Regulation 2007, coming in force from 1 December, allows broadcasters to sell the bouquet only in addition to the a la carte choice of the DTH service providers.

"All broadcasters will compulsorily offer all their channels on a-la-carte basis to DTH operators," the new regulation says. "Additionally, they may also offer bouquets, but they will not compel any DTH operator to include the entire bouquet in any package being offered by DTH operators to their subscribers," it adds.

TRAI also ruled that the sum-total rate of pay channels picked by the DTH operators would not exceed 1.5 times the rate of the entire bouquet. Also, no a-la-carte rate of a pay channel in a bouquet will be more than three times the average pay channel rate of that bouquet.

The broadcasters have also been asked to publish within 90 days reference interconnect offer (RIO) for the DTH operators, containing technical and commercial terms for interconnection.

The RIO will be made available on the broadcaster''s website and to the DTH operators. It will clearly indicate rates of channels and bouquets, including payment and discount terms, security and anti-piracy requirements, subscriber base reports and audit and tenure of the agreement.

The new regulation also allows both parties to enter into mutual agreements on "non-discriminatory basis by deviating from the RIO".

TRAI "will have the power to intervene and ask any broadcaster to modify" its published RIO on grounds of "protecting the interests of consumers or service providers, orderly growth of the sector, or for not being in conformity" with these regulations.

In case the broadcaster and the DTH operator fail to enter into an interconnection agreement after negotiations, they may jointly request TRAI to facilitate in arriving at an agreement, according to the new regulation.

This will be "without prejudice to the legal recourse" available to them at other courts of law, it said.

TRAI, meanwhile, observed that interconnection disputes between the DTH operators and broadcasters had delayed the rolling out of the DTH service.

Besides, Doordarshan''s all-free DTH, DD Direct, there are two DTH pay services - Zee''s Dish TV and Tata and Star Group''s Tata Sky. Four more are in the process of roll-out.

There are about 3.2 million DTH subscribers, as compared to nearly 70 million subscribers for cable TV.

 search domain-b
DTH operators can pick channels of choice, rules TRAI