The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on infrastructure sharing in broadcasting TV distribution sector. There has been an exponential increase in the number of satellite TV channels. Television broadcasting services are distributed to consumers using different distribution technologies like cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH), head-end in the sky (HITS), terrestrial TV, and Internet protocol TV (IPTV). At present, there are six private DTH operators, more than 900 multi-system operators (MSOs), a few IPTV operators, and 2 HITS operators distributing TV broadcasting services through digital addressable system in the country.
Each distribution platform operator (DPO) re-transmits a large number of satellite TV channels. Most of these TV channels are common across the DPOs. Therefore, there is a scope for better utilization of available infrastructure and reduction in the cost of operations, if the infrastructure is shared among the DPOs. This may result in optimum utilization of infrastructure and reduction in capital and operating expenditure of operators which may ultimately benefit the subscribers. To identify likely issues in sharing of infrastructure in broadcasting TV distribution sector, TRAI, on May 23, 2016, issued a pre-consultation paper on the subject. TRAI examined the issue of infrastructure sharing by MSOs, LCOs, and HITS operators and provided its recommendations to the government under Section 11(1)(a) of TRAI Act 1997. MIB has also sought recommendation of the Authority on the amendment that may be required in the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act 1995 and rules made thereunder to facilitate infrastructure sharing.
After examining the issues identified by the stakeholders, in response to the pre-consultation paper and issues identified by MIB, TRAI has floated the consultation paper on infrastructure sharing in broadcasting TV distribution sector. The objective of the consultation is to issue recommendations to the government of India to formulate a policy framework for enabling infrastructure sharing by DPOs so as to optimally utilize the infrastructure and to promote a healthy competition among service providers and to identify the changes required in the Cable TV Act and the rules made thereunder, in the license/registration conditions of the broadcasters/DPOs in order to facilitate infrastructure sharing on voluntary basis.