A few weeks back, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had floated a new consultation paper on the platform services which are being provided by the DTH operators. The DTH operators and the other industry stakeholders were asked to drop their comments on the issue over this consultation paper. On that front, the DTH operators have now reached out to the telecom regulator saying that there should be no need for a separate registration fee from the operators for the platform services being offered by them. In their comments on the consultation paper, ‘Platform Services offered by DTH operators’, the DTH operators have remarked that they already pay license fees, and therefore levying an additional fee would be redundant and unnecessary. It is worth noting that platform services are different from channels which come from the broadcasters, whereas platform services are unique to every DTH operator.
DTH Operators Argue License Fee as Sufficient Requirement
These platform services, as we mentioned above, are unique to every Distribution Platform Operator (DPOs) as they are not obtained from any broadcaster. In this regard, Dish TV has remarked that the validity of the registration of the platform service should be linked to the validity of the platform license. It further said that there should not be any additional fee levied on the operators for the registration of these platform services. Dish TV also brought to light the issue that out of all the Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs), the DTH operators are the only ones who are asked to pay an entry fee, license fee and also furnish bank guarantee.
Dish TV’s statement read, “Accordingly, there should not be any requirement of any additional payment by the DTH operators on account of Platform Services. The requirement for payment annual fee can be imposed on the cable platforms who are not required to pay any kind of entry or license fee to the government.”
Tata Sky Demands Equal Recommendations for All DPOs
Bharti Telemedia also added that Trai should do away with the condition of paying any charges for the platform services. On this issue, Tata Sky said that DTH operators are also paying a hefty entry fee which the other competing platforms are exempted from. Adding onto this, Tata Sky said that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) is not incurring any additional administrative cost. It also said that the DTH operators are already paying license fee from their earnings from the platform services.
Tata Sky has said, “Therefore, we suggest that TRAI should not recommend that MIB may charge additional money for registering Platform Services. There should not be any Registration Fee and/or Annual Fee for Platform Services.”
Bharti Telemedia Asks for Full Freedom Regarding Number of Platform Services
Expanding on its statements, Tata Sky also added that the platform services are something that are unique to the DTH operators, and these are some channels and branding material that cannot be replicated by other operators. Hence, Trai should come up with recommendations that are applicable across all the DPOs and not just only DTH operators. On the topic of the number of channels that the DTH operators are allowed to carry, Bharti Telemedia said that the DTH operators should be allowed the flexibility and freedom to decide the number of platform services that they want to carry. The DTH operators also argued that the placement of the platform services on the EPG should not be separated, and it is something that should be left to the DTH operators only. Lastly, these operators added that Trai should not recommend any additional maintenance of a written log or register for the platform services for a year as the license suffices for that requirement.