TRAI clamps down on distribution agencies of TV channels

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on Distribution of TV channels from Broadcasters to Platform Operators.

In India, TV channels are being distributed by the broadcasters themselves or through their authorised distribution agencies to the distribution platform operators such as MSOs, DTH operators, etc. Many such agencies (aggregators) operate as authorised agents for more than one broadcaster.

The consultation paper contains a proposal to amend the regulatory framework by adding provisions that clearly demarcate the role and responsibilities that can be assigned by broadcasters to their authorised distribution agencies for distribution of TV channels to various platform operators. These roles and responsibilities can be summarised as under:

(1) The Broadcaster (and not the aggregator) shall publish its Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) and enter inter Interconnection Agreements with the distribution platform operators

(2) If a broadcaster appoints a person as its authorised distribution agent, it shall ensure that:

The authorised distribution agent does not change the composition of the bouquet formed by the broadcaster while providing it to the distributors of TV channels;The authorised distribution agent does not bundle bouquet or channels of broadcaster with the bouquet of channels of other broadcasters.

In other words, in case the authorised distribution agency represents more than one broadcaster, they shall not link offering of the broadcasters they represent;While acting as an authorised distribution agent, such person acts for, on behalf and in the name of broadcaster.

Three months’ time is proposed to be given for reworking the Reference Interconnect Offers (RIOs) entering into interconnect agreements and filing the same with TRAI.

The stakeholders have been requested to offer their views/comments latest by August 27, 2013. The comments may be sent, preferably in electronic form, to Wasi Ahmad, Advisor (B&CS), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Managar Doorsanchar Bhawan, Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, New Delhi – 110002 (Tel No. 011 23237922, Fax No. 011 23220442) on the email address traicable@yahoo.co.in. Comments received will be posted on the website of TRAI.

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