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Broadcasters receive requests only from 62 MSOs for Phase III agreements

MUMBAI: The pace of signing interconnect agreements for digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III areas is yet to pick up, with just 62 multi-system operators (MSOs) approaching broadcasters for such agreements, as per the periodical reports submitted by the broadcasters to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Irked by the slow progress in the singing of interconnect agreements, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has issued an advisory calling upon the MSOs to immediately send requests to the broadcasters for the signing of interconnect agreements for Phase III areas.

“It is given to understand from the periodical reports submitted by the broadcasters to TRAI that only 62 MSOs have so far approached them for interconnection agreements for TV channels for Phase III areas,” the ministry said in its advisory to the MSOs.

The advisory further states that the MSOs should inform TRAI in case the broadcasters do not respond to their requests under intimation to the ministry.

The MSOs who have already sent their requests to the broadcasters without receiving any response even beyond the permitted time limit are advised to approach TRAI immediately with details, the advisory stated.

The ministry also pointed out that some MSOs have either not approached the broadcasters for channels or not informed TRAl about their problem. The ministry had via email advised all the MSOs on 6 April to send the copies of their communication with broadcasters regarding RIOs to TRAI for intervention.

As per Chapter II of the Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable System) Regulations, 2012 issued by TRAI, the MSOs are required to send a request to the broadcasters for TV channels in DAS areas and on their requests broadcasters are required to send their reference interconnect offer (RIO) to them within 60 days of receipt of such requests.

Earlier, three broadcasters, namely Star India, Multi Screen Media (MSM) and TV18, had informed TRAI that they had received 55 requests from MSOs, while commercial deals had been signed with two such MSOs. Deals with 11 MSOs were in advance stage of negotiations.

DAS Phase III will cover 38.79 million television households across 630 districts and 7,709 urban areas spanning 29 states and five Union Territories.

The ministry had earlier made it clear that the Phase III deadline would not be extended under any situation.

In fact, I&B joint secretary R Jaya had gone a step further and exhorted the MSO and LCO representatives to clear the misgivings in the minds of some that the deadlines for Phase III and IV were going to be extended. She had told the industry members that this misinformation should be curbed at the very source.