The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has introduced new regulations which will allow the industry stakeholders, mainly DPOs and broadcasters, to register interconnect regulations. Trai has today issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements and all such other matters Regulations, 2019. The telecom regulator has noted that the main aim of this new regulation will be to bring together a reporting system for the service providers so that they will be able to report details of interconnect arrangements including the commercial details of such an arrangement. This will allow the regulator to maintain a register of interconnect as per the existing Trai Act. Currently, the Register of Interconnect Agreement (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Regulation, 2004 remains in effect.
New Regulations Based on Consultation Paper Issued Back in 2016
This new set of regulations will also make sure that the process is simplified, and there is no duplication of reports. Based on this, Trai will also be able to formulate its views on various issues such as accessibility of information of register. To recall, the sector regulator had issued a consultation paper back in March 2016, titled “The Register of Interconnection Agreements (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Regulations, 2016”.
Trai noted that based on the comments received on the consultation paper issued back in 2016, and also keeping in mind the developments that happened after the introduction of the new Trai regulatory framework in the market, it issued the draft of Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements Regulations, 2019 on April 22, 2019. The regulator also posted the comments which were received on this draft on its website in the following days. On June 10, 2019, there was also an Open House Discussion (OHD) held in Delhi. The new regulations were then prepared keeping in mind the developments in the market after the implementation of the new regulatory framework.
New Regulations to Bring Transparency in Interconnect Arrangements
Trai has also said that the “objective of this regulation is to promote transparency and nondiscrimination in the Broadcasting sector. As per the new regulation, all the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) are required to be filed by every broadcaster and the distributor of television channels. Initially, the distributor having average active subscriber base below one lakh have been exempted from the obligation of reporting details of interconnection agreements to promote ease of business and reducing the regulatory burden on such MSOs with limited resources.”
The new regulation also entails that there will now be online filing happening through electronic mode. The regulator has also added that these new regulations will go into effect in 120 days. It also said that the intervening period would prepare the service provider for easy compliance. Trai concluded that the “Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements and all such other matters Regulations, 2019” is available on its official website.