New Delhi: The telecom regulator TRAI will hold regional consultations to understand and address the problems faced by cable television operators who complain the broadcasting sector lacks transparency.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will reach out to local cable operators (LCOs) across the nation since it is difficult for the latter to come to Delhi, chairman R.S. Sharma said. Currently, there are over 60,000 cable operators in India.
“We have planned about 12 such consultations in the next few months. It is an ongoing process. We want to understand the issues of the LCOs and address them,” said Sharma. At each open house session in a particular region, LCOs from that region will be invited.
The move is part of the regulator’s efforts to bring transparency in the relationships among various stakeholders in the sector, such as television broadcasters, multiple system operators (MSO), distribution platform operators (DPOs), LCOs and consumers.
DPOs obtain TV channels from the broadcasters and offer them to consumers either directly through direct-to-home services and Internet Protocol television or through cable operators. MSOs are operators with two or more cable TV systems.
The LCOs have repeatedly complained to TRAI about what they say are discriminatory pricing policies of broadcasters and non-transparency of the agreements between stakeholders.
Roop Sharma, president of the Cable Operators Federation of India, said over 700 cases are pending in various high courts and the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal filed by LCOs over transparency issues, calling it an “alarming number”.
“Cable operators are the last mile in the broadcast sector hierarchy and it is a great move on the part of the regulator to address their issues. Without LCOs, the broadcasters and the distribution platforms would fall flat. I congratulate the authority on this move,” she added.
In March, the regulator had also floated a consultation paper on the interconnection framework in the broadcasting sector in an effort to address the contracts between various stakeholders and ensure transparency and a level playing field in the sector.