The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has warned broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSOs) to sign their interconnect agreements for Phase III of digital addressable system (DAS) by 21 June otherwise Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will intervene to decide terms and conditions which may not be favourable to both stakeholders.
At the 8th Task Force meeting for Phase III under DAS held on 27 May, interconnection agreement was the main issue. Earlier, the ministry had set 30 April as the cut-off date for signing interconnect agreements. But till 30th April, no interconnection agreement had been signed as stakeholders did not arrive at a consensus.
MIB warned for proceeding so slow as they may not meet the deadline in this way. It was also clearly stated that no extension will be given & moreover if any MSO fails to meet deadlines his license could be cancelled.
Iquebal Ahmed, President Greater Gauhati, Cable Television Operators Association had attended 8th DAS Task Force representing LCOs and submitted a memorandum demanding intervention of both regulator & Ministry to tackle the unethical activities of MSOs creating monopolies, depriving both consumers & LCO of fair services by noncompliance of rules & regulations. Ahmed also demanded to include President COFI as a member of the Task force representing LCO community as he pointed out that even in the fresh inductions, MIB has not invited any LCO organisation whereas increased the strength of broadcasters and large MSOs who have little role to play in Phase III & IV.
Iquebal also informed Cable Quest that TRAI as well as MIB are upset as the process of digitisation is not moving as desired. MSOs who are also the distributors of pay channels, which is against the Supreme Court ruling are causing hindrance in the process trying to obstruct the entry of new players so that they could create their monopolies.
TRAI also accepted that the broadcasters are not complying with TRAI regulations of ‘Must Provide’ and there are many problems in signing interconnect agreements.
According to MIB, the Phase III of DAS will cover 38.79 million television households spanning 630 districts and 7,709 urban areas and for this signing interconnect agreement is necessary by deadline date.