The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has today issued a consultation paper on issues related to ‘Interconnection Regulation 2017’. TRAI has received representations from a few regional broadcasters wherein they have highlighted their concerns regarding the declaration of the target market by Distributors of television channels (DPOs).
The existing regulations provide freedom to the DPOs to declare their target market for the purpose of ascertaining the carriage fee. Some of the DPOs have declared multiple states or entire country as their target market. In these cases, regional broadcasters are required to pay very high carriage fee. This puts an undesired financial burden on regional Broadcasters.
TRAI said that this makes such local broadcasters prone to undue arm twisting by the distributors, as their subscription continues to remain lower than the minimum prescribed threshold of five per cent under which a DPO is not mandated to carry any channel.
TRAI also added that the placement agreement, marketing agreements or any other technical or commercial arrangements between broadcasters and Distributors (apart from RIO) are in forbearance. But now various broadcasters have sent complaints and alleged that some DPOs are resorting to pushing for marketing/placement/promotion agreement, by exploiting the available Forbearance.
With this consultation paper, TRAI will review the provisions of the existing Interconnection Regulation 2017 and consult on issues related to Target Market, Placement and other agreements between broadcasters and Distributors. Written comments on this consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by 23rd October 2019 while counter comments can be submitted by 6th November 2019.