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DTH operators present list of concerns to TRAI
MUMBAI: Over-the-top (OTT) platforms, DD Freedish, satellite crunch and the licensing process are some of the concerns that direct-to-home (DTH) operators have.
Videocon d2h has called upon the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to regulate the over-the-top (OTT) video delivery platforms like Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Videocon d2h has noted that the OTT services are un-regulated as they don’t need a licence to operate, nor pay licence fee. They are also exempt from paying entertainment taxes unlike other TV distribution platforms.
In its submission on the pre-consultation paper ‘Ease of doing business in broadcasting sector’, Videocon d2h remarked that OTT players do not have to invest much compared to traditional distribution platforms.
The DTH operator also said that the availability of same content on OTT platforms throws open the possibility of piracy since most of the OTT platforms are available for free. This, it averred, would hurt the monetisation prospects of distribution platforms like DTH.
Videocon d2h said that while broadcasters charge for content from DTH platforms, the same content is available freely on OTT platforms. This will result in revenue cannibalisation.
The DTH operator also urged TRAI to create a level playing field with respect to DD’s free DTH service Freedish.
The DTH operator submitted that the allocation of broadcasting spectrum must be provided under a single window so as to cut down on unnecessary expenses and streamline the process for the same.
Tata Sky in its submission also highlighted the need for a single-window structure as the whole process of starting DTH operations beginning from the receipt of the frequency allotment letter until the receipt of the final uplinking permission takes approximately six months.
Videocon d2h further submitted that the DTH operators must be allowed to use disaster recovery/backup head-end simultaneously in an active mode. This demand was backed up by Dish TV, which stated that the DTH operators are allowed to use the DR sites simultaneously in usual course of operation, thus reducing burden on primary head-end.
According to Videocon d2h, the services from the DR site (secondary head-end) will result in saving in the CAPEX and OPEX along with several advantages without compromising either on the quality of the programme.
Videocon d2h has also submitted that DTH operators should be allowed to provide radio services without any payment obligation.
Dish TV and Tata Sky said that the NOCC and WPC charges paid by DTH operators should be rationalised. Both WPC and NOCC charge a substantial amount (NOCC – Rs 60,000 per MHz per annum and WPC Rs 90,000 per MHz per annum) for providing various clearances and ultimately the permission to broadcast.
Tata Sky noted that the activity done by WPC and NOCC is administrative in nature and is in regard to processing of various permissions. Such administrative charges should be a nominal amount which would cover the costs incurred by the respective departments for providing the clearances.
Dish TV noted that the objective of paying charges to NOCC is to monitor the transmissions of DTH operators. However, NOCC has no role where the transmissions are done through foreign satellites; therefore, NOCC charges should be done away with since most DTH operators are using foreign satellites.
Tata Sky submitted that a valid licence-holder should not need to repeatedly approach various licensing/regulatory bodies for additional permissions for providing services within the scope of the licence.
It further noted that the appointment of directors gets delayed due to the delay in getting security clearance. The DTH operator also requested TRAI to modify the current policy of obtaining clearance to allow for the immediate appointment of the personnel.
The DTH operator said that the quarterly PMR must be completely done away with or at least reviewed and simplified.
It also requested the sector regulator to proactively recommend to the relevant regulatory bodies and government departments to extend digital incentive and discount schemes to the DTH operators.
Dish TV submitted that the DTH operators must be allowed to directly enter into commercial negotiations with foreign satellite operators without having to go through Antrix Corporation.
Reliance Digital TV suggested that the technical interoperability clause in the licence agreement should be replaced with commercial interoperability. This will reduce cost of STBs by $2 to $5 and will also result in huge forex savings both for the nation and for the operator.
It further stated that Article 10 in DTH licence needs to be amended so that interactive services using satellite return path in DTH can be deployed.