Signalling a clear intention to implement Cable Digitalisation by the due date, broadcasting sector regulator TRAI has pulled up broadcasters and Multi System operators (MSOs) for not finalising inter-connection agreements and has now set a August 21 deadline for it.
Sources told PTI that in a meeting held yesterday TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar told broadcasters and MSOs that the regulator will have to step in and decide the tariffs and carriage norms if they failed to finalise these contracts.
The interconnection agreements decide the price and terms at which channels are bought by MSOs from broadcasters for further transmission to cable households.
The Government has already announced that the cable sector would be digitalised in the four metros by October 31 this year and in the rest of the country by December 2014. The finalisation of interconnection is an important pre-requisite for digitalisation of the cable sector.
The inter-connection agreements would also have a bearing on the retail price which the consumer would have to pay for watching these channels, officials said.
Sources said that TRAI officials also expressed unhappiness at the Interconnection Agreements not being finalised despite giving adequate time and the opportunity given for them by both TRAI and MIB.
“Top TRAI officials in the meeting said digitalisation of the cable sector was imperative as it was the will of the Parliament. Any attempt to derail or delay it would not be tolerated,” a well placed source said.
The sources further said that in the meeting TRAI officials informed that the regulator had kept a watch on each development and felt that there was failure on the part of both broadcasters and the MSOs to arrive at mutually negotiated agreements.
Sources said that representatives of broadcasters and MSOs explained that they were under active negotiations and the deals are on the verge of commercial closure.
Sources said that in the meeting some industry representatives sought time up to August 31 but it was not accepted.
After further deliberations in the meeting, it was agreed that both the parties would try to conclude the agreements with major MSOs by 21st August, sources said.
In case of non finalisation of the agreements beyond this date, the result would be stipulation of terms by TRAI, it was decided in the meeting, sources said.