New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Wednesday recommended infrastructure sharing in the television distribution sector, which will enable cable TV distributors (or distribution platform operators) to share the available resources in the industry and reduce their capital expenditure.
In a set of recommendations submitted to the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry for approval, Trai encouraged sharing of infrastructure (on a voluntary basis) and proposed an amendment in the current licensing regime of distribution platform operators (DPOs).
DPOs obtain television channels from the broadcasters and deliver these to the subscribers directly (through DTH operators) or indirectly through cable operators. According to current registration and licensing conditions, DPOs are required to establish and maintain their own infrastructure for distribution of satellite television services to the subscribers.
“The central government should encourage sharing of infrastructure, wherever technically feasible, in TV broadcasting distribution network services, on voluntary basis,” the regulator said in the recommendations, adding that DTH operators should be allowed to share infrastructure with prior written intimation to the ministry and the regulator itself.
According to Trai, the sharing of available resources will not only lower the capital expenditure of the DPOs but will also bring down the price of cable television services for the subscribers. “In addition, it would lower the entry barriers for new service providers. Lowering of entry barriers in the distribution space could propel competition in the market and more choices to consumers due to presence of multiple operators in single territory,” the regulator said.
DTH operators welcomed the move. “It is a wise move. Now, it is up to the ministry on how and when is it implemented. DTH operators spend Rs150-200 crore on the maintenance of infrastructure every year, ” said Jawahar Goel, managing director of Dish TV.
Trai’s recommendations come after the DPOs had expressed concern over high costs involved in the television distribution set-up and had called for an amendment in the existing policy guidelines for different operators.
The multi-system operators had also asked the I&B ministry to allow infrastructure sharing, citing high costs of providing signals in remote areas. Providing signals to the consumers in remote areas requires high investments and developing infrastructure individually increases the overall cost of operators and generates low returns.
“Infrastructure sharing will be very economical. Like telecom, we will also be able to share our resources. Technology is already in place to facilitate this. It is decision in the right direction,” said S.N. Sharma, CEO at cable distribution company Den Networks Ltd.