PB urges TRAI to mandate DPOs to provide DD channels even to inactive subs

MUMBAI: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has told the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to mandate distribution platform operators (DPOs) to make the mandatory Doordarshan channels available even to their inactive customers.

In its submission on the consultation paper ‘Tariff related issues for Broadcasting and Cable Services’, the pubcaster stated that the regulations/tariff order should delink provisioning of DD channels with network capacity of the operator, technology adopted by the platform, tariff plan offered by the operator to its subscribers.

“In the context of the consultation issues, Prasar Bharati is of the view that, in the larger public interest, the channels notified by the Central Government shall be made available to subscribers over and above the network capacity subscribed by the subscriber without any additional monetary burden on the subscriber. This would be in line with the intent of the Cable TV Act,” the pubcaster said in its submission to the TRAI.

“Further, since the STBs are not yet technically interoperable, Prasar Bharati is of the view that in case a subscriber does not renew its subscription, the notified channels should continue to be available to such subscribers in order to benefit the subscribers to avail public broadcasting services. This will ensure dissemination of any information of national importance to the subscribers, whether his connection is active or not at that time.”

However, it clarified that any repair or maintenance charges towards customer premises equipment shall be payable by the subscriber as per the rates prescribed by the operator. This will also help to contain e-waste.

As per the Cable TV Act, the DPOs have to provide the notified channels to the subscribers, irrespective of any bouquets or a-la-carte channels being subscribed by customers. At present, the government has notified 26 television channels for must-carry by the DPOs.

Prasar Bharati also stated that there is perhaps no need to recommend to the MIB for any change at this stage, as in the consultation paper itself the authority is of the view that there is no additional cost associated in providing mandatory channels by DPOs, therefore, all these channels should be provided to all the subscribers at all the times, free of charge in national interest.

It added that the DD channels should be excluded while calculating network capacity fee (NCF), as these are mandatory to be provided to the subscribers.

For the sake of clarity, the pubcaster suggested that the authority may recommend to the MIB to amend the first proviso to clause 1 of the notification S.O. No. 2693(E) dated 5th September 2013 as under:

“Provided that every cable operator shall provide the above channels to the subscribers irrespective of any bouquet(s) or a-la-carte channel(s), or both being subscribed by them; and without linking provisioning of above channels with any condition, including but not limited to, the network capacity of the operator, technology adopted by the platform, tariff plan offered by the operator to its subscribers, payment made by subscriber for continuing cable services etc.”

It also stated that the authority may also recommend the ministry to issue notifications/orders/OMs etc. for DTH, IPTV service providers and OTT platforms that also stream linear TV channels of Prasar Bharati or those TV channels licensed by MIB so as to have same intent for the benefit of the consumers of DTH/IPTV/OTT-Streaming services at large.

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