The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on the platform services (PS) offered by direct to home (DTH) operators, cable TV companies and distribution platform operators (DPOs) in India. The regulator is collecting feedback from all stakeholders till October 11, post which some new regulations will be finalized on how to regulate these services. DTH operators often tend to bundle value adds such as these services along with regular subscriptions or charge separately for these as they would otherwise do for channels, in an effort to offer customized content to users and to also monetize these. Some examples of these services include Tata Sky Bollywood Premiere and Tata Sky Music on Tata Sky, Movies Active and Cooking Active on DishTV and Goodlife as well as Disney Stories on Airtel Digital TV.
TRAI says that it wants to regulate the content on these platform services and wants to ensure that the content being offered by any DTH operator on their platform service is not available on the platform service of another DTH operator or any TV channel. “Presently PS channels being offered by DPOs are not regulated under any specific guidelines of MIB. DPOs operate them as per their own understanding of the terms and conditions of their respective registrations/ licenses/ agreements. Some programs transmitted by DPOs through these PS channels are similar to the programs transmitted by regular TV channels,” says the consultation paper.
TRAI also wants these services to be sequenced separately from other channels on a DTH operator’s platform. “It has also been argued that non-regulated supply of such services by DPOs is trespassing into the domain of regular TV channels. Therefore, it is essential to distinguish such services as distinct from regular TV broadcasting,” says the consultation paper. At present, it is often noted that these services are interspersed between regular TV channels, in an effort to get them greater traction and viewership.
TRAI also wants to increase the one-time registration fees for these platform services. At present, it is Rs 1,000 per platform service, but the regulator wants to increase that to Rs 1,00,000. This will in a way also reduce the clutter of often unnecessary platform services.
At present, cable TV and DTH operators tend to offer a whole bunch of services on their platforms, which they tend to offer at additional rates, over and above the channel bouquets and packages that you may subscribe to.