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The ministry of information and broadcasting has issued guidelines for platform services provided by multi-system operators (MSOs) in India, granting them 12 months to comply with the norms.

The Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, permit MSOs to transmit their own programming service, either directly to their own subscribers or through one or more local cable operators. These own programming services referred to as platform services, which also include most local channels, are exclusive programming services generated at the local level by MSOs.

As part of the new guidelines, I&B has laid out an online registration process for PS channels by MSOs at fees of 1,000 per channel. The online registration portal for this purpose is under preparation and shall be notified shortly. Only entities registered as companies are allowed to provide local news and current affairs. MSOs not registered as “company" and desirous of providing local news and current affairs are mandatorily required to apply within three months with the ministry of corporate affairs for conversion into the same.

Total number of permitted PS channels per operator is to be capped at 5% of the total channel carriage capacity.

To cater to the need local language and cultural needs of subscribers, this cap on PS channels shall be computed at the level of state or Union Territory. Also, additionally, two PS channels shall be permitted at the level of each district to cater to the need for local content there.

All PS channels are to carry a caption as ‘Platform Services’ to distinguish them from the registered TV channels. Content of PS is to be exclusive to the platform and is not to be shared directly or indirectly with any other distribution platform operator. However, sharing of live feeds from religious places shall be permitted.

All PS channels are to be placed together under the genre ‘Platform Services’ in the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) along with their Maximum Retail Price and option for activation or de-activation as per applicable orders and directions of TRAI.

MSOs offering PS are to retain recording of all PS channel programmes for a period of 90 days which shall help in combating piracy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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