TRAI Makes Written Interconnection Agreement Mandatory For Broadcasters

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TRAI Makes Written Interconnection Agreement Mandatory For Broadcasters
New Delhi:  Broadcasting sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has made it mandatory for the broadcasters of pay channel to enter into written interconnection agreement with Multi System Operators (MSOs) for retransmission of pay channels.

In a statement TRAI said that it has released the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (DigitalAddressable Cable Television Systems)(Sixth Amendment) Regulations, 2016.

The regulator said it was observed from interconnection details submitted by the service providers that signals of TV channels were being provided by several broadcasters to MSOs and MSOs to Local Cable Operators (LCOs) even in the absence of valid interconnection agreement in writing.

It was also observed that continuation of retransmission of signal without valid interconnection agreement, on the pretext of continued mutual negotiations, often results into disputes and sometimes abrupt disconnection which affects the quality of service to the consumers, it added.

In this regard, draft sixth amendment was released for consultation on November 3 last year and an Open House Discussion was held on December 11, the regulator said.

After considering the stakeholder's comments and in-house analysis, the Authority today released the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable Television Systems)(Sixth Amendment) Regulations, 2016, it added.

"Through this amendment, the Authority has explained that it shall be mandatory for the broadcaster of pay channel to enter into written interconnection agreement with the MSO for retransmission of its pay channels irrespective of whether subscription fee is paid by the multi system operator to the broadcaster or not," TRAI said.

The amendment provides for minimum 60 days for entering into new agreement before the expiry of existing one between the service providers for retransmission of TV signals.

After the amendment, no scope will be available in the name of mutual negotiations, for continuing the provisioning of TV signal after expiry of the existing interconnection agreement, it said.

The MSOs are mandated to inform the consumers in the event of failure to execute new interconnection agreement, about date of expiry of its existing interconnection agreement and disconnection of TV channels, 15 days prior to the expiry of existing interconnection agreement to enable the consumers to take informed decision in respect of their choice, it added.

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