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Consultation launched into pay-TV channel distribution in India

The power wielded by the authorised distributors of India's most popular television channels is under scrutiny by the Indian regulator, following complaints of monopolistic behaviour from the country's cable operators.

Around 75% of the total pay-TV market is controlled by four distribution agencies, and many cable operators consider the resulting high carriage fees unfair.

A proposal to amend the regulatory framework has been mooted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), by adding provisions that clearly demarcate the role and responsibilities that can be assigned by broadcasters to their authorised distribution agencies for distribution of TV channels to various platform operators.

Through a consultation paper, TRAI suggests that the broadcaster, rather than the distributor (or aggregator) should publish its Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) and enter Interconnection Agreements with the distribution platform operators.

The broadcaster should also, suggests TRAI, ensure that: the authorised distribution agent does not change the composition of the bouquet formed by the broadcaster while providing it to the distributors of TV channels; the agent does not link the offering of more than one broadcaster if they represent more than one; and that authorised distribution agents acts for, on behalf of, and in the name of the broadcaster.

Stakeholders have been requested to offer their views and comments by 27 August 2013.

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