TV broadcasters in favour of capping number of PS channels offered by DTH ops

MUMBAI: TV broadcasters have suggested that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) should put a cap on the number of platform services (PS) channels offered by direct to home (DTH) operators.

In its submission on the consultation paper ‘Platform services offered by DTH operators’, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has submitted that the cap on the number of PS channels can be 1-2% of the total capacity declared by the DTH Operator.

Further, DTH Operators should ensure that they would retransmit the signals of channels of all the broadcasters on their platform and should not provide bandwidth constraint reasons for TV Channels of broadcasters due to the existence of more PS channels.

“TV channels should have primacy since the license for operations of DTH Operator was given with the primary objective of retransmitting TV channels,” the broadcaster submitted.

Times Network submitted that the number of platform services should be linked to the channel capacity of the DTH service provider. Hence, the PS channel number may be restricted to 5% of the channel carrying capacity subject to a maximum number of 15 TV channels.

It noted that a large number or unrestricted number of PS services interferes with the TV watching experience of the viewer and hence may not be desirable.

ABP News Network stated that the DTH sector faces channel capacity constraint as it is limited by the transponder capacity.

It added that the new regulations mandate that upon the availability of spare channel capacity, a distributor has to ‘must carry’ the channel of a broadcaster.

“In a situation where the Distributor has no limitations to its own PS Channels, the Broadcasters of Channels will be left high and dry as they will be unable to find a spot in the Network of the Operator who will cite “capacity constraints”. It is also a known fact that in case the PS are allowed, the same will lead to biasness of the DTH and MSO as they will prefer their PS over the Broadcaster’s Channel,” ABP News Network submitted.

On the question of whether the programmes of the PS should be exclusively made available on one single DTH Operator’s network or to be made available to other DPOs should be best left to the discretion of the content Owner, SPNI submitted that this should be best left to the discretion of the content owner.

Times Network submitted that the condition of programmes being exclusive to a single DTH operator is not warranted as this can have far-reaching consequences.

It pointed out that a content producer, once having shared the content with a particular DTH operator for showcasing the same on its platform service, will not be able to further monetise the same on other DTH / DPO platforms, which will result in restrictive practices.

ABP News Network noted that if the programme is exclusive to one DTH operator, it should not be available to any other DTH operator otherwise it would become another broadcaster channel and lose the tag of PS.

Times Network has suggested that the registration fee on PS can be kept at around Rs. 1,00,000/- to register each PS channel. Annual fees should also be charged for the PS channel. ABP News Network has submitted that the DTH operator should be made to pay a similar annual/ registration fee as paid by a broadcaster for acquiring a channel licence.

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