Direct-to-home (DTH) majors including Tata Play and Dish TV have written to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), seeking a level playing field with over-the-top (OTT) content distributors. Responding to the consultation paper, put together by the TRAI, seeking feedback on how to improve the ease of doing business in the telecom sector, DTH players said the industry is struggling under the burden of licensing undue, while OTT continues its rapid growth. without any license burden.
“The DTH sector has been operational for several years and provides employment for a large part of society. However, the DTH sector has struggled to thrive in recent years, due to many factors including the rapid growth of OTT without regulatory and licensing framework,” Tata Play told the regulator.
Discriminatory royalty regime
Dish TV further added that the discriminatory licensing fee regime for DTH has created an unlevel playing field. “Current license fees discriminate against DTH operators and are designed to provide leverage to cable operators, HITS, IPTV, MSO and OTT platforms. Due to this additional load, the DTH subscriber is discriminated and has to bear a higher load.
Expanding on the lack of a level playing field vis-à-vis OTT providers, Tata Play said: “While the government has brought OTT under the control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) through its Gazette notification, dated November 10, 2020, OTT platforms continue to provide the same services as the broadcast industry, but without a licensing framework or regulation.
“The 2021 IT Intermediary Guidelines also fail to address the blatant discrimination faced by the DTH industry on issues such as, but not limited to, licensing fees and cross-holding restrictions,” said Tata Play.
In order to improve regulation in this area, Tata Play suggested: “To level the playing field, the MIB can either include OTTs under the umbrella of DPOs and put in place a licensing and regulatory framework. to govern OTTs in accordance with the framework governing DTH operators, or alternatively, amend the licensing and regulatory regime governing DTH operators to remove impediments such as license fees, advertising code and program code and TRAI’s regulatory regime and restore forbearance.This will ensure healthy competition in the industry and lead to a balanced growth of the economy.
The DTH industry has long said that it is not on equal footing with other content distributors, as it is mired in undue licensing fees and regulations.
February 13, 2022