TRAI chairman PD Vaghela said that DD Freedish is creating problems in the broadcast sector and the second consultation paper on the New Tariff Order would aim at creating a level playing field among all distribution platforms.
“While Prasar Bharati is happy with the huge revenue through the auction of slots of DD Freedish, it is creating a problem. Both MSOs and DTH operators have to pay for a channel but on the other hand, the channels are paying huge amounts to the government. So, there is an anomaly and that is required to be handled,” Vaghela said while speaking at FICCI Frames on Wednesday.
While pushing for complete forbearance in the broadcast sector, the TRAI chairman detailed other issues the regulator is aiming to address through the consultation.
He added, “TRAI decided to first handle the issues of broadcasters and then come out with the second aspect pertaining to distribution platforms for which the consultation paper is ready. Some of the issues that it will handle include Network Capacity Fees (NCF), discount structure for NCF, discount on MRP of pay channels, Carriage Fee capping, inclusion of FTA channels in different packages, level playing field with respect to DD Freedish, revenue share between MSOs and LCOs, EPG and LCN issue, disincentives for non-compliance, charges for installation/activation, etc.”
In addition to this, he requested that if the industry comes together and gradually moves towards forbearance, it will be the best way forward.
Vaghela also reiterated that as far as the broadcasting sector is concerned, a lot of reforms have happened in the last two years and the regulatory body would very much like to get out of it.
Upon being questioned as to whether regulational levies be dependent on the technology used instead of the product delivered, Vaghela replied that while licensing is there for the DTH operators, MSOs, and for LCOs there is registration, but for other kinds of mediums, there is none.
“Coming to the licence fee, I don’t know why it is so that there is no licence fee for the MSOs and LCOs, when there is 8% licence fees from the DTH operators and very surprisingly, there is no licence fee for the HITS. We have issued a consultation paper and will be handling this,” he said.
In his views, the one thing that is very clear is that under TRAI Act, there is a limited mandate and the regulatory body can regulate only those service providers to whom the government is giving licence.
“For OTTs, no licence is given and therefore I don’t have the mandate. However, we have done a lot of research and will certainly look into that and also see whether we should enter this area and issue a consultation or recommendation to the government because the way the technology is changing and new players are coming, one simple way would be to provide a level playing field in the form of a simple regime with regards to licensing, licence fee or cross-sector,” he added.