The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued the consultation paper on “Renewal of Multi-System Operators (MSOs) Registration”.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) vide dated 7th February 2022 has made a reference to TRAI seeking its recommendations on referred aspects of the renewal of MSO registrations. In its reference, MIB has stated that the policy guidelines for uplinking/downlinking of channels prescribe ten years as the permission period. The renewal period is also mentioned as ten years. In the DTH sector, the Guidelines mention the license validity for a period of twenty years, renewable by ten years at a time. To maintain uniformity with the DTH and Broadcasting Sector and considering the validity of security clearance. MIB has proposed to keep the renewal period of MSO registration after every ten years. The processing fee to be charged for such renewal also needs to be decided, as per the consultation paper.
MIB in its reference has requested TRAI under Section 11(1)(a)(ii) of the TRAI Act 1997, to give its recommendations on the following aspects of the renewal of MSO registrations:
(i) As there is no provision for renewal in the CTN Act, whether a provision relating to renewal of MSO registration after every ten years be inserted in the Rules.
(ii) Rule 11A of CTN Rules, 1994 prescribes processing fee of Rs. One Lakh to be submitted with the application for MSO registration. The amount of processing fee to be charged for such renewal, which shall also be inserted in the Rules, may also be advised.
MIB has sought the recommendations of TRAI on specific aspects, as outlined in 1.8 (i) & (ii) above, for extension of the validity period of MSO registration including the amount of processing fee. This Consultation Paper has been prepared to seek the comments/views of the stakeholders on the issues related to renewal of MSO registration. It is also noted that at present there is no provision for renewal in the existing Guidelines for Registration for HITS services.
TRAI is of the view that in order to maintain uniformity amongst different distribution platforms, the policy guidelines should have a provision for renewal for HITS services also. Accordingly, TRAI may initiate a separate consultation for renewal of HITS services, either on a reference from MIB regarding this or on suo motu basis, as may be necessary.
In General, Cable TV, along with DTH, is the predominant platform for receiving TV broadcasts. In a typical cable television distribution chain, MSO receives programming service from the broadcaster and re-transmits the same to the consumer, either directly or through one or more LCOs. Registration of MSOs progressed in consonance with the phase-wise implementation of DAS. The number of registered MSOs has steadily increased from 29 in 2012 to 1451 by 2017. New Regulatory Framework also provided further growth. The framework provides a mechanism of time bound provisioning of signals for television channels for MSOs.
Issues for Consultation
Stakeholders are requested to provide their comments on the following issues:
3.1 What should be the period of extension/renewal, to be prescribed in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 /Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, on the expiry of the initial period of permission of MSO registration? Please elaborate your response with justification.
3.2 Whether a one-time fee should be levied at the time of renewal of the MSO registration? If yes, please suggest the amount of fee for such renewal to be prescribed in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 /Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. Please provide detailed reasoning for your comment.
3.3 Should a time window be prescribed before the expiry of MSO registration, within which the MSO shall apply for renewal of the MSO registration?
3.4 In case an MSO has applied for renewal, and the final decision on renewal is pending, what should be the provision to ensure continuity of service for the consumers on expiry of previous registration?
3.5 In case an MSO hasn’t applied for renewal before the expiry of its registration:
3.5.1 What should be the status of services by such MSO after the expiry of registration? As per extant guidelines/ regulations an MSO with valid registration only can get the signals of a television channel. Should a broadcaster disconnect the television channels for such MSOs whose registration has expired?
3.5.2 Should existing registered operational MSOs be provided with an extended time beyond the original registration period for applying for renewal? What should be the maximum time after expiry up to which an application for renewal can be entertained by MIB?
3.5.3 Should there be an additional fee for such applications that are received after the expiry of the registration period?
3.6 Should some qualifying conditions be prescribed for renewal of MSO registration, under which the MSO, along with the application for renewal, shall be required to submit its compliance status with the terms and conditions of registration and the extant regulatory framework?
Please provide the details of:
(i) List of necessary compliances that should be mandatory for considering renewal of MSO registration,
(ii) List of documents, which may include, but may not be limited to, self-certifications, NOCs from TRAI/MIB/licensing authority, audit reports etc. that would be required to be submitted for verification of such compliances at the time of application,
(iii) Any other mandatory requirements for verification of status of compliances of the MSOs before grant of renewal of registration.
Please elaborate your suggestions with reasons for the mandatory requirement of each compliance in tandem with ease of doing business in the television distribution network.
3.7 Should there be any additional terms and conditions for renewal of the permission for MSO registration? Please elaborate.
3.8 Stakeholders may also provide their comments on any other issue relevant to the present consultation.
As per the notification, written comments on the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by 10th August 2022. Counter comments, if any, may be submitted by 17th August 2022.