TRAI releases consultation paper, seeks views on issues of market dominance in cable TV sector

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 25, 2021

Stakeholders asked to send their views by November 22

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday released a consultation paper to look into issues of monopoly and market dominance in the cable TV sector. The broadcasting and telecom regulator said this was being done in response to a reference received from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry asking the regulator to issue a fresh set of recommendations on this matter, since the media and entertainment landscape has changed with the advent of new digital technologies.

The regulator had earlier issued a recommendation in 2013 on this matter.

The regulator has now sought views from stakeholders on whether there is sufficient competition in the TV distribution sector given multiple options are available for accessing TV channels and whether there is a need to regulate issues of monopoly or market dominance in the current regulatory framework. The stakeholders will need to send their views by November 22.

Entry barriers

The consultation paper also focuses on assessing entry barriers in the Indian cable TV sector, whether there is need to regulate local cable operators and what norms should be set for sharing infrastructure to enable broadband services for last mile access.

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With the emergence of joint venture or subsidiary model in the past few years, following large MSOs acquiring local cable operators and smaller MSOs, TRAI noted that there have been instance of dominant MSOs misusing their market power. TRAI has, therefore, also sought opinion on whether MSOs and their joint ventures (JV) should be treated as a single entity, while considering their strength in the relevant market.

Among other issues raised in the consultation paper include whether there is a need to “recommend cross-holding restrictions amongst various categories of distribution platform operators /service providers.”

Currently, there are 1,733 registered MSOs and 1,55,303 cable operators in the country. The top 14 MSOs are estimated to serve about 45.7 million customers.

Published on October 25, 2021

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