Set-top box interoperability on top of Trai’s agenda for 2017
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New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is all set for a complete revamp of the broadcast sector with a new regulatory framework in the year 2017.
Implementation of the pending draft orders, consultation process for over-the-top video streaming sector, interoperability of set-top boxes (STB) and ease of doing business are some of the issues to be taken up by the telecom regulator in this calendar year, said Trai chairman R.S.Sharma.
“We have listed out five items for our agenda in 2017—first of which is the implementation of the draft regulatory framework, as and when it becomes operational. Secondly, we will have a holistic consultation paper on the issues related to ease of doing business in the broadcast sector,” Sharma said after a closed door meeting with broadcast stakeholders in the capital on Tuesday.
In October, Trai had proposed three different draft orders on tariff framework, interconnection agreements between broadcasters and distribution networks and quality of service provided to the subscribers. However, television broadcasters are of the view that the tariff order stands in conflict with the Copyright Act, 1957.
So much so that Star India Pvt. Ltd and its subsidiary, Vijay Television Pvt. Ltd had also filed a petition in Madras HC in December against Trai, information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and the Department of Telecom on similar grounds, after which HC asked Trai not to pass any guidelines on tariff issues in the broadcast sector.
Following the Madras HC order, the regulator has moved Supreme Court through a special leave petition challenging the order. “As and when this restriction becomes clear, we will issue a final regulation,” Sharma said.
Sharma said that the big breakthrough in the sector would be the interoperability of the set-top boxes which will allow subscribers to use the same STB interchangeably between various service providers. “C-DOT (nodal partner) is actually putting in a framework, they have developed the technology. We are nearing a solution for set-top box interoperability,” he said.
Meanwhile, the regulator has also received requests from the industry stakeholders to develop a framework for the OTT sector. “The distribution platform operators have expressed concern that the broadcasters are airing same content through internet channels as through direct-to-home firms and cable operators, which is why we will look into consultations,” said Sharma.
OTT sector in India is currently dominated by global players Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, independent video-on-demand service providers like YuppTV, Hooq and Spuul and television broadcasters-owned OTT platforms namely Hotstar, VOOT and SonyLIV .
Apart from this, the regulator also plans to reduce the disputes in the sector by developing a framework for the management of interconnection agreements between various service providers in an effort to ensure transparency and a level playing field in the sector.