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TRAI caps carriage fee at 20 paisa per channel per subscriber per month

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed to cap the rate of carriage fee payable by broadcasters at 20 paisa per channel per subscriber per month.

However, broadcasters will not have to pay any carriage fee if the subscription of the channel is more than or equal to 20% of the subscriber base.

The interconnection framework is common for all addressable systems, namely DTH, HITS, DAS and IPTV. It has also suggested ‘must carry’ provision for all addressable systems, on first-come, first-served basis.

The recommendations are part of the draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016 released by TRAI.

Some of the new features of the draft regulations are as follows:

(i) A common interconnection framework for all addressable systems, namely DTH, HITS, DAS and IPTV.

(ii) ‘Must carry’ provision for all addressable systems, on first-come, first-served basis. The distributor of TV channels to publish information about its platform including available capacity and declare the rate of carriage fee.

(iii) No carriage fee is to be paid by a broadcaster if the subscription of the channel is more than or equal to 20% of the subscriber base.

(iv) The rate of carriage fee has been capped at 20 paisa per channel per subscriber per month. Further, the carriage fee amount will decrease with increase in subscription.

(v) The distributors may offer discounts on the carriage fee not exceeding 35% of the rate of the carriage fee declared.

(vi) Interconnection agreements to be signed in accordance with the reference interconnection offer (RIO).

(vii) A broadcaster to offer to a distributor a minimum of 20% of the maximum retail price of its pay channels or bouquets of pay channels as distribution fee. They may also offer discounts on the maximum retail price, provided that the sum of discounts and distribution fee in no case exceeds 35% of the maximum retail price, so declared.

(viii) The standard format of application for a distributor of TV channels for obtaining signals from broadcasters and the standard format of application for a broadcaster for access of network from the distributor for re-transmission of TV channels.

TRAI had issued a consultation paper on ‘Interconnection framework for Broadcasting TV Services distributed through Addressable Systems’ on 4 May.

The basic principles of non-exclusivity, non-discrimination, transparency, level playing field and fair competition have been retained in these draft regulations, TRAI said.

TRAI has asked stakeholders to provide their comments on the draft regulations, especially the values suggested in the draft. Stakeholders have been asked to provide their inputs on the completeness and consistency of the regulations within other draft regulations/tariff orders.

Stakeholders can provide their comments latest by 28 October.

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