TRAI takes steps to facilitate faster growth of IPTV service

Friday, June 13th, 2008
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NEW DELHI — The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has held interactive discussions on 14th May 2008 and 16th May 2008 with the broadcasters of pay channels regarding the rates and packaging of channels being offered by them for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service for facilitating faster growth of IPTV service in the Country.

Earlier, TRAI had sent its recommendations to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and Department of Telecommunication on January 04, 2008 on the issue of Provision of IPTV Services. The Authority had recommended, among others, that the uplinking / downlinking guidelines should be amended to enable the broadcasters to provide signals to all distributors of TV channels including IPTV service providers. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has conveyed its agreement with the recommendations of the Authority.

In the meantime, some of the service providers have experienced difficulties in getting television channels from the broadcasters at prices on which DTH service providers are getting in line with TRAI’s determination of a-la-carte and bouquet prices on advisory basis. The Authority has held interactive discussions with the broadcasters on the subject. During the course of the discussions, a general consensus to adopt non-discriminatory price regime has emerged on the composition of bouquets and pricing of channels on a-la-carte and bouquets basis for IPTV services. The broadcasters have broadly agreed to offer channels on a-la-carte basis and also to offer the same bouquets to the service providers offering IPTV service as are being offered to DTH operators. It was also broadly agreed that the rates of bouquets and a-la-carte rates of pay channels so offered for IPTV services would be same as being offered to DTH operators, i.e., at fifty percent of the rates applicable for non-CAS cable TV networks. The Authority’s clear and unambiguous advice was that DTH and IPTV platform should receive similar and uniform treatment as uniquely addressable system. The Authority views this as a positive step on the part of the broadcasters to move towards uniform pricing for different addressable delivery platforms.

It is expected that the above will facilitate and expedite the conclusion of interconnection agreements among the broadcasters and service providers offering IPTV services to offer the services to the consumers on competitive prices once appropriate provisions in policy are made by the Government.