On 30 July, The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to take a clear stand on key questions relating to interconnect agreement in the dispute between broadcasters Star India, Taj Television and headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operator Noida Software Technology Pvt Ltd (NSTPL).
The tribunal enumerated some of the questions that affect not only the present case but the whole broadcasting sector given below:
Should a broadcaster’s RIO form the basis for negotiations to enter into an interconnect agreement with the distributor of signals or the RIO is only a fall back basis, in case the negotiations between the broadcaster and the distributor for entering into interconnect agreement otherwise fails?
Whether an interconnect agreement between a broadcaster and a distributor of signals on a fixed fee basis, completely dehors the broadcaster’s RIO can be said to be in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations?
Is it open to the broadcaster to give discounts, concessions and facilities to distributors of signals on a deal to deal basis or is the broadcaster obliged to frame a standard scheme of discounts, concessions and facilities and make it public so that it may be available to all similarly situated distributors equally?
What is the status of a head-end in the sky operator vis-a-vis a broadcaster for the purpose of inter-connect arrangements? Whether a HITS operator is comparable to a large MSO operating on a pan India basis?
TDSAT Chairman Justice Aftab Alam along with members Kuldip Singh and B B Srivastava were examining two cases (Petition No. 295© of 2014 and Petition No. 526 © of 2014) filed by Noida Software Technology Park Ltd against Media Pro and Taj Television.
The Tribunal wanted a clear stand from TRAI and also directed that this order should be placed on the Tribunal website in the form of a notice with copies being sent to the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), MSO Alliance and DTH Operators’ Association, as any adjudication of these questions is likely to affect the broadcasting sector as a whole fundamentally.
The Tribunal said it would be open to any stakeholders to intervene and address the Tribunal on the issue.
Listing the matter for further hearing on 11 August 2015, it said any applications for intervention may be filed within one week from 30 July.