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TRAI recommendations on Platform Services offered by DTH operators

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its recommendations on ‘Platform Services offered by DTH Operators’. 

A reference was received from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) vide its letter dated July 2, 2019, seeking recommendations of TRAI for inclusion of few issues regarding platform services with reference to DTH guidelines. 

In order to deliberate on various aspects and to seek inputs from the industry stakeholders, TRAI had issued a consultation paper on ‘Platform Services offered by DTH Operators’, on August 28, 2019. Written comments and counter comments on the consultation paper were invited from the stakeholders by October 4, 2019 and October 11, 2019, respectively. All the comments received were posted on TRAl’s website. Subsequently, an open house discussion was held on October 15, 2019, in Delhi, to seek the further views of the stakeholders on various issues. 

Based on the comments of the stakeholders received during the above-mentioned consultation process and its own analysis, the Authority has finalised its recommendations on ‘Platform Services offered by DTH Operators’. 

The salient features of the recommendations are: 

  1. TRAI reiterates the definition of platform services as recommended in ‘Regulatory Framework for Platform Services’ dated November 19, 2014. The definition of platform services (PS) for DTH operators shall be: “Platform services (PS) are programs transmitted by Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) exclusively to their own subscribers and does not include Doordarshan channels and registered TV channels. PS shall not include foreign TV channels that are not registered in India.” 
  1. The programme transmitted by the DTH operator as a platform service shall be exclusive and the same shall not be permitted to be shared directly or indirectly with any other Distribution Platform Operator (DPO). 
  1. Programme transmitted by the DTH operator as a platform service shall not directly or indirectly include any registered TV channel or Doordarshan channel or foreign TV channel. Time-shift feed of registered TV channels (such as +1 services) shall not be allowed as a platform service. 
  1. DTH operator shall ensure and provide an undertaking to the Ministry in the format prescribed by the Ministry that the programme transmitted is exclusive to their platform and not shared directly or indirectly with any other DPO. 
  1. In case the same programme is found available on the PS of any other DPO, MIB/ TRAI may issue direction to immediately stop the transmission of such programme. MIB also reserves the right for cancellation of registration of such PS of the DTH operator. 
  1. The total number of permitted PS for a DTH operator shall be capped to 3 per cent of the total channel carrying capacity of the DTH operator platform and subject to a maximum of 15 platform services channels. 
  1. A one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs 10,000 per PS channel shall be charged from a DTH operator. 
  1. The platform services channels shall be categorised under the genre ‘Platform Services’ in the Electronic Programmable Guide (EPG) subject to orders/ directions / regulations issued by TRAI from time-to-time. 
  1. The respective maximum retail price (MRP) of the platform service shall be displayed in the EPG against each platform service subject to orders/ directions/ regulations issued by TRAI from time-to-time. 
  1. A provision for putting a caption as ‘Platform Services’ may be required to distinguish the platform services from the linear channels. The Government may decide the caption in a size which is visually readable by the consumers.
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