The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been asked by the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharti that the DPOs should mandate the DD channel which it provides even for the inactive subscribers. Currently, the distribution platform operators (DPOs) have been mandated by Trai to offer 25 DD channels to the active subscribers. But, now the public broadcaster has asked the telecom regulator to mandate the DPOs to make the case same for inactive subscribers as well. These requests from Prasar Bharti come as part of the comments which the broadcaster has drafted on the consultation paper which Trai floated a while back. The consultation paper was titled ‘Tariff related issues for Broadcasting and Cable Services.’ Here is what Prasar Bharti noted in its comments on the concerned consultation paper.
Prasar Bharti Asks Trai to Suggest Changes to MIB
As per Prasar Bharti, the provision of Doordarshan channels should be delinked with the network capacity, the tariff charges and technology of the platform. This means that regardless of the NCF (Network Capacity Fee) which the subscribers pay and the technology they use, these customers should be able to access the DD channels. The public broadcaster said in its comments to Trai, “In the context of the consultation issues, Prasar Bharati is of the view that, in the larger public interest, the channels notified by the Central Government shall be made available to subscribers over and above the network capacity subscribed by the subscriber without any additional monetary burden on the subscriber. This would be in line with the intent of the Cable TV Act.”
Public Broadcaster Asks to Make Change in the Name of National Interest
Prasar Bharti has also noted that since the Set-Top Boxes are not interoperable, the subscribers should be able to continue watching DD channels even though they do not renew their subscriptions. This is so that the customers continue to avail public broadcasting services. This will also ensure that any information of national importance is disseminated even though the subscriber’s account is not live with the DPO and he or she has not renewed their subscription. But, with this being said, Prasar Bharti also added that the subscribers should bear the cost of any repair or maintenance towards the equipment on the rates prescribed by the respective DPO. This step would also help in containing the e-waste.
Mandatory Channels Asked to be Provided Without any NCF
The broadcaster further added to its words saying that in the consultation paper itself, Trai has noted that the provision of mandatory channels does not cost the DPOs any money and as such, all the mandatory channels should be provided by the operators to the subscribers at all times, without any charges for the national interest. It also added that the DD channels should be excluded while calculating the network capacity fee (NCF) as these channels are mandatory for the subscribers.
The public broadcaster also noted that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) should recommend changes to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to amend clause 1 of the notification S.O. No. 2693(E) dated 5th September 2013. The public broadcaster also added that Trai could ask MIB to send orders or notifications to the OTT services, DTH operators and IPTV service providers to keep the same intent for the benefit of the consumers. If Trai considers this input, then this would mean that subscribers would not have to pay for the NCF of the mandatory 26 DD channels which they currently get. Right now, the subscribers are required to pay Rs 130 for 100 SD channels as NCF, but the 25 of them are already occupied by the DD channels, thus only giving 75 channels to the subscribers for the rest of their selection.