DTH operators not guilty of unfair trade practices: CCI

DTH operators not guilty of unfair trade practices: CCI

New Delhi: In a breather to warring DTH operators like Tata Sky, Reliance Big TV, ZEE’s DishTV and Bharti’s Airtel, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has said they have not indulged in unfair trade practices by denying nearly 20 millions users an option to change operator.

Competition watchdog CCI has closed the case against the DTH operators, ruling that they have not violated Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act 2002, which pertain to abuse of dominant market position and anti-competitive agreement, respectively, sources said.

“There are techno-economic issues involved in making set-top boxes inter-operable. We have found that even the price of a CAM card, which is very scarce in the market, is much higher than the price of a set-top box.

“Therefore, it is fair for DTH operators to continue with the practice until a technological solution is found to make these boxes inter-operable," an official said.

A CAM card allows the set-top box to read the feeds of more than one service provider.

“Moreover," the source added, “Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is already looking into the issue. So, we don’t want any duplication."

According to TRAI guidelines on Technical Standard and other Obligations, open architecture (non-proprietary) set top boxes should ensure technical compatibility and effective interoperability among different DTH service providers.

In 2009, a consumer organisation had filed a complaint with the CCI alleging that DTH operators were limiting competition by not offering interoperability of their set-top boxes.

The organisation has also alleged that DTH service providers had agreements with manufacturers of set-top boxes, which further restricted interoperability.

Besides, Consumer Online had also complained that subscribers get discouraged to change the operator, as their set-top boxes do not provide the option of using another player’s card, as that would mean changing the entire set, which was expensive.