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Cable TV operators approach TRAI against Sony, Star-Disney

Cable TV operators have asked the telecom regulator to look into the operations of broadcasters such as Sony and Star-Disney India for offering similar programming on both their linear as well as over the top (OTT) service platforms. Cable operators are specifically referring to broadcasters’ live programming on their OTT platforms such as Sony Liv and Hotstar sports programming, which are also shown on their live linear channels. This, according to cable operators, violates regulations.

In a letter to the TRAI, the Digital Cable Operator Association, Mumbai, wrote, “As per downlinking regulations issued by the MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting), a broadcaster cannot provide TV channels directly to customers.”

According to the association, any broadcaster seeking downlinking permission must provide satellite TV channel signal decoders to cable TV operators, DTH or IPTV service provider. OTT platforms are thus excluded from the list.

Decision against NTO
The association believes the broadcasters’ decision to relay the same content on OTT platforms as well as live linear channels is being done against NTO (New Tariff Order) pricing regulations. Thus not adhering to NTO’s main goal which is to provide a level playing field to the television services distribution industry. “The NTO was supposed to bring a level playing field amongst all distribution platforms which distributed broadcast channels. We would like the authority to check if it is indeed a level playing field when OTT platforms show the same broadcast channels without following any of the NTO pricing regulations,” it said.

BusinessLine had reported earlier, that broadcasters such as Sony and Discovery had asked the TRAI or the Competition Commission of India to pursue a serious investigation against the cartelisation between cable operators and broadcasting entities owned by the cable TV players. The broadcasters had alleged that this is resulting in channels of only certain broadcasters being given preferential treatment by some cable operators.

Cable operators, in their response to TRAI’s consultation paper, also noted that OTT platforms continue to be unregulated, where the price of OTT content is not at par with the content provided through cable operators.

“TRAI should bring OTT or video streaming platforms under a strict regulation in accordance with the benchmark of Indian socio-cultural demands and heritage and the price of OTT content should be at par with cable TV platforms. Until and unless OTT platforms are regulated, the price of broadcasting content should remain same on both platforms,” the cabe TV association said. The same was echoed by many others cable associations including Cable Vision Network, Association of Broadband & Cable TV Operators, All Bengal Cable TV & Broadband Operators United Forum and many more. The Hindu BusinessLine

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