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Trai prescribes new regulations for cable, broadcasting distribution services

Trai, which had received complaints from various broadcasters regarding the distribution of pirated signals, had brought out a consultation paper seeking views on standardization of these systems last April (iStockphoto)Premium
Trai, which had received complaints from various broadcasters regarding the distribution of pirated signals, had brought out a consultation paper seeking views on standardization of these systems last April (iStockphoto)

  • Trai, which had received complaints from various broadcasters regarding the distribution of pirated signals, had brought out a consultation paper seeking views on standardization of these systems last April

NEW DELHI : The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Third Amendment) Regulations 2021 which provides for technical compliance by CAS (conditional access system) and SMS (subscriber management systems) systems for broadcast and cable TV, with a view to control piracy, lower tariffs and ensure better programming for consumers.

Trai, which had received complaints from various broadcasters regarding the distribution of pirated signals, had brought out a consultation paper seeking views on standardization of these systems last April.

CAS is a digital mode of transmitting TV channels through a set-top box (STB). The transmission signals are encrypted and viewers need to buy a set-top box to receive and decrypt the signal. The STB is required to watch only pay channels, not free-to-air channels, like Doordarshan. SMS, on the other hand, is the combination of hardware and software integrated with CAS that gives information on subscribers, STBs and channel packages.

Existing technical requirements for CAS and SMS are generic in nature and allow for different types of systems to co-exist in the ecosystem. While some of the CAS systems deployed are using advanced embedded security, others are based on non-standard solutions, making them vulnerable to hacking, and putting content security at risk. Most CAS companies do not have their own SMS, middleware and user interface which increases the dependency of distribution platform owners on third-party software solutions.

With views from all stakeholders gained during these consultations and the formation of a committee to review the same, Trai has now come up with a framework that that defines an indigenous set of specifications (for these systems) in line with international standards.

“A tightly synchronized working of CAS and SMS…will enable factual reporting of subscriber base. This will reduce the revenue loss to stakeholders…in turn, may encourage them to invest for further improvement in quality of content," a Trai notification said. “The framework will usher better content security in the distribution value chain. This, in turn, shall give confidence to the global content developer community and pave the way for increased availability of better-quality, high-definition content to Indian television viewers," it added.

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