Explained: Here's why OTT platforms are discontinuing LIVE feeds

OTT platforms, including SonyLIV, Hotstar and Zee5, are taking the decision to discontinue live TV channels from their services with an aim to strive for full compliance with regulations

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Explained: Here's why OTT platforms are discontinuing LIVE feeds

In a recent development, SonyLIV announced a major change to its streaming services, confirming that it will discontinue SonyLive TV channels from the platform. In the past, the streaming app facilitated access to Sony TV channels, however, this feature is set to be withdrawn effective August 30, 2023.

In a message to its subscribers, SonyLIV said, “Dear user, with effect from August 30, 2023, live TV channels will no longer be available on SonyLIV. However, the individual programs and select movies which are broadcast on linear channels shall continue to be made available to you as per your subscribed pack.”

Apart from this change, there is no impact on any other offerings on SonyLIV, the platform added.

“Accordingly, we have updated SonyLIV's Terms of Use which will come into effect from August 30, 2023. By continuing to use and access SonyLIV on or after August 30, 2023, you agree to have accepted the updated terms,” SonyLIV wrote in the message.

This move aligns with a series of developments in the broadcast sector.

OTT platforms, including Hotstar and Zee5, are taking the decision to discontinue live TV channels from their services with an aim to strive for full compliance with regulations, aiming to steer clear of any legal ambiguities.

This move comes amidst an industry-wide effort to align with established guidelines and avoid legal uncertainties.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) straightforward perspective posits that actions not permissible directly should also be avoided indirectly.

However, a subset of OTT platforms holds a differing perspective, contending that pursuing indirect approaches is within justifiable bounds.

Consequently, certain OTT platforms continue to offer live TV channel services on their platforms.

Meanwhile, TRAI's goal is to ensure the entire sector aligns with regulatory frameworks, emphasising that independent actions should be replaced with adherence to established guidelines.

In September 2022, TRAI came up with recommendations on 'Market Structure/Competition in Cable TV Services'.

In its recommendations, TRAI said that many MSOs opined that unlicensed video and audio streaming services as well as OTT platforms should be definitely accounted for the purpose of determining market dominance.

A stakeholder opined that it is imperative that OTT Service Providers are under some form of regulation like all the other stakeholders in the relevant market.

“Similarly, a DTH operator highlighted that in terms of Clauses 5.6 and 5.7 of MIB’s Downlinking Guidelines, a Broadcaster is not entitled to re-lay or transmit TV content/channels directly to the

consumer and must do so only through a DPO, however, the broadcasters relay their linear channels on their own OTT Platforms,” TRAI said in its recommendations.

“The DTH operator further urged TRAI to categorise Streaming services / OTT as a DPO and to regulate Streaming services/ OTT services on the same terms as the DTH operators are regulated. Similarly, another MSO requested that TRAI bring OTT under the ambit of regulation and provide a level playing field. A stakeholder opined that the future of Television is very bleak due to competition from streaming platforms, and if Government puts more control on LCO/MSOs in the name of controlling monopoly, then it would adversely affect the cable TV sector,” it added.

Earlier, TRAI contended that broadcasters are supplying signals of linear channels to OTT platforms in a manner that bypasses Clause 5.6 of the Uplinking and Downlinking guidelines for television channels.

According to Clause 5.6 of the policy guidelines issued on December 5, 2011, pertaining to the downlinking of TV channels, a broadcaster shall provide satellite TV channel signal reception decoders only to registered entities such as MSOs (Multi-System Operators), Cable Operators, DTH operators, providers of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services and HITS operators.

The narrative further extends to legal proceedings. In September 2022, The Delhi High Court stayed an order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) directing broadcasters Star India, Sony and Sun TV to submit information regarding the content on their OTT platforms to TRAI.

Justice Yashwant Verma of the Delhi HC heard the petitions wherein the broadcasters had challenged a TDSAT order that upheld the TRAI direction asking them to furnish a “detailed architecture” indicating which media is being used to deliver the content of linear channels to the broadcasters’ OTT platforms or third-party OTT platforms.

In November 2021, TRAI directed these broadcasters to give information regarding their live linear channel streaming on their OTT platforms. Later, in September 2022, TDSAT directed broadcasters to provide information regarding the same.

In December 2021, the TDSAT directed the TRAI to not take coercive action against broadcasters for not furnishing information related to the mode of retransmission of linear channels on OTT platforms.

This series of developments underscores the dynamic landscape and ongoing deliberations within the domain of OTT platforms, as they navigate the realms of regulatory compliance and operational strategies.


OTT OTT platforms live feed streaming platforms SonyLiv TDSAT Live TV channels linear channel live channels