- 12 Jan 2012
- Reaction score
MSOs, broadcasters plan to move court over carriage fee
Not satisfied with the ‘must carry’ diktat and regulation of carriage fee outlined in the latest regulations by the broadcast regulator, both multi-service operators (MSOs) and news broadcasters may soon take legal recourse. MSOs and broadcasters are studying the order before approaching the courts, sources said.
On Monday night, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) issued the tariff order and regulations for digital addressable system (DAS) roll out mandating every MSO to upgrade its delivery platform so as to carry 500 channels in DAS areas, starting with the four metros. DAS entails mandatory use of a digitally addressable set-top-box for accessing TV channels and encryption of all television signals in DAS notified areas.
"The tariff order applies equally to DTH service providers and MSOs. No such 'must carry' mandate is imposed on DTH operators. The Trai orders directly attacks every MSOs right to do business. This should be challenged in court," said a top executive in MSO Alliance, the apex body of leading MSOs.
News Broadcasters Association, the apex body of leading news channels too as expressed its displeasure accusing the sector regulator of legalising the menace of carriage fees when DAS in itself is supposed to eliminate it.
Both Trai and the ministry of information and broadcasting have supported the move. Trai chairman J S Sarma ruled out any roll back of the DAS order. Sarma told a news channel that Trai does not issue regulations and tariff order to roll back or re-look at them the next day. On its part, Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, I&B ministry told FE that the DAS order was balanced and pro-consumer.
But MSOs are not satisfied. "It costs a lot to upgrade the network and digital head-ends in order to make them ready for carrying 500 channels. While there may be a demand for these many channels in metros and bigger towns, no such demand is there in smaller towns. This directly impacts the fundamental right of doing business," said the head of regulatory and legal affairs in a leading MSO brand requesting anonymity as the matter was still be discussed internally.
Even the markets welcomed the Trai order as the stocks of MSOs like DEN, Hathway and WWIL went up by 2.12%, 19.23%, and 4.73% respectively. However, the stocks of some broadcasters took a beating. News broadcasters like NDTV -0.84%, Zee News (-2.31%), and TV Today (unchanged), while general entertainment channels like Zee Entertainment closed in the red while Sun TV saw 5% gain.