The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with a consultation paper seeking views on regulatory guidelines proposed for distribution platform owners such as direct-to-home (DTH) services along with cable and multi-system operators (MSOs), which provide their own set of channels besides broadcaster-owned alternatives.
The regulatory body has sought stakeholders' feedback by December 14 and counter comments by December 19.
The suggestions by TRAI comprise distribution platform owners who offer programming services pertaining to their platform and are not acquired from satellite-based broadcasters. Contrary to regular broadcast of TV channels, these programming services are either sourced from local content producers or produced by the DPO itself.
TRAI had first published suggestions for MSO and cable services back in 2014 but they have been put on the back burner in the wake of digitisation of TV distribution and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposing modifications to the same.
Regarding cable operators, TRAI has said any person or entity keen on offering platform services (PS), or already providing them, must be incorporated as a company under the Indian Companies Act, 2013, along with the regulations framed thereunder.
However, the I&B Ministry is of the view that the majority of multi-system operators or local cable players (MSOs/LCOs) in small areas are either partnership or proprietorship firms not registered as companies. Meanwhile, making it mandatory for MSOs/LCOs to convert into companies may not be in accordance with the ease of doing business.
TRAI has no objection to this given that the ministry is able to stipulate the compliance structure to make sure that those offering platform services make full disclosure regarding ownership status as well as adhere to advertisement and content codes.