With the DTH industry going in circles and circles over the regulations, the relationships between DTH operators and the broadcasters have also gone a little sour as the new rules from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) have penetrated the workings of these broadcasters and Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs). Now, a new issue has come up in the industry related to the capping of carriage costs of the channels for the DPOs. It is worth noting that the carriage cost is something that a broadcaster pays to the DPOs for carrying the channel ahead to the customers. In their latest move, the DTH operators and the cable TV operators have said that currently there is no need to cap the carriage fee. These operators have submitted to the telecom regulator saying that the DPOs and the cable TV operators have not misused the flexibility of defining a target market for their carriage fees.
AIDCF in Favour of Sticking to Current Regulations
In this matter, the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) has also spoken that cable TV operators have aligned coverage with their head end, which they treat as the target market. It also added that capping the carriage fee would stand in the way of proper transmission of channels to the subscribers, and it would also hinder the freeway in which the DPOs are currently doing business. AIDCF also added that the carriage fee, in this case, has been determined in an appropriate manner and there is no need for any kind of revision. As per AIDCF, there is also the thing to consider that only a handful of broadcasters have approached the DTH operators and the cable TV channels, which infers to the intentions of these broadcasters. As for the DTH operators, Tata Sky, Bharti Telemedia, and Dish TV, have all said that defining a target market would be an unreasonable move as it is a pan-India service, unlike the cable TV operators.
Small Broadcasters Make Move to Bring Down Carriage Fees
Now to understand the matter well, it is important to note that the small broadcasters which have been hit by the new Trai tariff regime are in a tough position and the carriage fee is one of the costs that all the broadcasters are required to pay. Hence, a selection of the target market and the capping of carriage fee would mean that the broadcasters would save more on their costs.
Dish TV has also spoken on the matter saying that the issue of carriage fees should be kept in forbearance and it should be a mutually negotiated rate between the broadcaster and the DPO. It further pointed out, that Trai has introduced a cap of 20 paise per subscriber as carriage fees for the broadcasters seeking placement of their channel on the DPOs platform. Bharti Telemedia has said that there is significant investment involved from the side of DTH operators since they set up the infrastructure to relay the TV signals and the channels, and hence the operators should be allowed to get back their investment from the broadcasters.
Tata Sky Roots for Forbearance
Speaking in layman’s terms, Dish TV has asked that there should be no change in the regulations and the capping of 20 paise per subscriber as carriage costs is fine, whereas, Tata Sky has remarked over de-regulation of the carriage prices saying that the industry should revert to the previous pattern where the carriage cost was mutually negotiated with the broadcasters and DTH operators. With this, Tata Sky has also added that it does not believe that forbearance is going to cause any distortion to the level playing field.