No separate licence to provide IPTV services: TRAI

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TRAI

New Delhi, Jan 4: Telecom and internet service providers and cable operators would not need a separate licence and registration to provide Internet Protocol TV(IPTV) services, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said here today while releasing its recommendations on the new TV service carrier.

IPTV is a new method of delivering and viewing television programmes using an IP network and high speed broadband technology. It is fast becoming a popular value added service in many countries. Under the existing licensing conditions, Unified Access Services license (UASL) and Cellular Mobile Telephony Service (CMTS) License are permitted to provide triple play service and IPTV is permitted under this provision.

Recently, the government has permitted ISPs having net worth of more than 100 crore to provide IPTV services after obtaining permission from the licensor.

TRAI said it was asked to give views on the issue as a question was being raised time and again in view of the provision of Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995 as to whether these operators need any other regulatory clearances or registration to provide IPTV to their subscribers.

Under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995 no person shall operate a cable television network unless he is registered as a cable operator.

Telecom service providers while providing TV channels through IPTV, shall transmit only those channels for which broadcasters have received up-linking/down-linking permission from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

In such cases, the responsibility to ensure that the content was in accordance with the extant laws, rules and regulations would be that of the broadcaster and not of the telecom licensee.

In case of contents other than TV Channels from broadcasters, the telecom licensee would be held responsible for observing programme code and advertisement code. Such codes are the same as provided in Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995 and Rules there under.

In addition to this, such licensees will also be bound by various Acts, instructions, directions and guidelines issued by the government from time to time, including IT Act 2000 to regulate the contents.

Telecom service provider providing IPTV would show only the news channels approved by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The Telecom Regulator said the up-linking and down-linking guidelines should be amended to enable the broadcasters to provide signals to all distributors of TV channels such as cable operators, multi-system operators, DTH operators, HITS operators, IPTV service providers. Telecom service providers providing IPTV service would be subjected to percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) as license fee as applicable from time to time which is presently six, eight, and ten per cent for access service licensees in category 'C', 'B' and category 'A' circles and six per cent for ISPs.

In case any telecom service provider registers itself as cable operator and provides IPTV using its telecom resources, it would be considered as service under telecom license. Such a service provider would have to pay the license fee on IPTV revenue also as applicable to its telecom license.

Any breach of the provisions of Act, License, Registration or Permission by telecom service provider, cable operator or Broadcasters would be dealt with by designated agencies which are responsible for administering such Acts, License, Registration and Permissions.

BIS might be requested to expedite standardisation of IPTV Set Top Box specifications to help cable operators while designing their IPTV networks.

No change in FDI cap is envisaged for provision of IPTV services both by the telecom licensee and Cable TV operators.

TRAI asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Information and Technology Ministry to regulate the content used by IPTV service providers. Operational procedures like time limit to keep a copy of the contents shown on IPTV, and monitoring requirements could be worked out by DOT based on the feedback from the respective Ministries.

Any violation of prevailing Acts, Rules or guidelines relating to content by telecom service providers in provisioning of IPTV service would be reported to DoT by the respective Ministries.

The decision of the respective ministries regarding violation of the law, direction or guidelines in respect to content would be final. DoT might perhaps seek the guidance of the respective ministries to ascertain the penalties for the breach to maintain uniformity and would initiate suitable action for imposing penalties for violations in time bound manner, said TRAI in its recommendations.


UNI

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