TRAI releases recommendations on HITS service

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New Delhi, Oct 17: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today came out with its recommendations on Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) service, which is a satellite based platform for delivering multi channel television signals to cable operators across the country.

The aim of the measures is digitalisation of cable TV network.

HITS is capable of delivering TV signals in digital form with addressability features.

The operator uplinks signals of TV channels of different broadcasters to his HITS satellite in the sky. The cable operators across the country can then downlink these TV channels from this satellite for further distribution to the subscribers through their cable network in digital form.

Since the HITS satellite will have country-side footprint, it will benefit about 60,000 cable operators who serve nearly 70 million cable TV homes.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had requested TRAI to formulate and recommend the policy guidelines for HITS operation following which TRAI had issued a consultation paper on various policy issues involved on July 24 seeking comments of the stakeholders.

The important recommendations on the policy framework of HITS operation are as follows: HITS operators will provide digital signals of TV channels only to the registered MSOs/cable operators and not directly to subscribers.

To enable fast digitalisation of cable services, no restrictions regarding transmission frequency band for HITS operation should be imposed.

Uplinking from outside India should also be permitted at the option of HITS operators.

Foreign investment upto 74 per cent recommended in line with the telecom sector.

Entry fee of Rs 10 crore and minimum networth requirement of Rs 40 crore have been recommended to ensure that only serious players get HITS license.

No annual fee has been recommended to ensure level playing field with multi system operators and to ensure that HITS service competes effectively with other delivery platforms.

Condition for rolling out the service within a period of one year is recommended. Provision of refundable performance Bank Guarantee of Rs 40 crore has also been made in the recommendations with the stipulation that it will be refunded on completion of roll out obligation and shall be forfeited in the event of failure to roll out the service.

To avoid vertical integration and to promote competition, cross holding restrictions among broadcasting company, DTH licensee and HITS operator has been recommended. Thus, no broadcasting company or DTH licensee can hold more than 20 per cent of equity in HITS company and vice-versa.

Uplinking or downlinking guidelines need to be amended to enable HITS operators to get signals from the broadcasters.

HITS operators should pay spectrum fee similar to that paid by the DTH operators.

UNI

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