Discovery gets Trais dictat to modify RIO

New Delhi, Jun 29 | Updated: Jun 30 2008, 05:35am hrs
The broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias (Trai) has directed MSM Discovery, distributor of Sony and Discovery group of channels, to modify its reference interconnect offer (RIO) for sharing of channels with DTH operators within 15 days.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias directive to the broadcaster came after it found that in its RIO, submitted before it, the company was not following the norms laid by the sectoral tribunal TDSAT in this regard.

Contrary to TDSATs direction to give signals to the Direct-to-Home operators at half the rate - at 50% of the rate offered to MSO and Local Cable Operators in non-CAS area, MSM Discovery had said that it proposed to share the feed with DTH operators on agreement basis. Modify its RIO for DTH operators to offer bouquets/ channels at 50% of the rates at which such bouquets/ channels are being offered for non-CAS cable distribution, i.e., non-addressable platform so as to comply with norms laid down by the Honble TDSAT, said Trai, while passing a eight page directive to MSM

Discovery. The regulator also directed MSM Discovery to submit a compliance of its direction along with a copy of modified RIO. Presently, MSM Discovery is distributing Sony, Set MAX, Discovery, AXN, Animal Planet, Discovery Travel and Living, SAB, PIX, Animax, MTV, NICK, VH1, Ten Sports, Aaj Tak and Headlines Today.

Trai action came after the broadcaster as per the sectoral rules and regulations submitted its new RIO before it. In the RIO, MSM discovery submitted its new proposed a-la-carte (pick and choose) and bouquet rates. Later, after finding that the broadcaster was giving signals to some DTH-operators on agreement basis, Trai wrote a letter and gave them a chance to clarify their stand over the issue.

The company stated that any reduction in the prices would not be feasible for it and the end customers would not get any benefit of price reduction. It also requested the TRAI to desist from taking any precipitate action against it for such violations. Rejecting it TRAI said: It is not a valid ground for exempting MSM Discovery from application of the norms laid down by TDSAT.

... competition among DTH platforms and between DTH on one hand and cable TV on the other will exert sufficient competitive pressure on DTH operators to share the benefits of lower content cost with end consumers and thus protect the interests of service providers, and consumers of the broadcasting sector and cable sector, and promote orderly growth of the broadcasting sector and cable sector.

TRAI added that by offering separate bouquets DTH system would be defeated from cable distribution network and such offering would be against the interests of service providers and consumers of the broadcasting and cable sectors and impede orderly growth of both the sectors. Justifying its directions, regulator further said that offering separate bouquet for cable and DTH operators would defeat the norms laid down by TDSAT, which had held that the broadcaster would send the channels on either a-la-carte or bouquets at half price. PTI