I&B ministry lays down guidelines for infrastructure sharing by MSOs

Accepts Trai recommendations on infra-sharing in TV broadcasting distribution sector.

Mumbai: The ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) has given its go-ahead to the multi-system operators (MSOs) to share infrastructure with other MSOs on a voluntary basis. As per the guidelines released by the ministry, the responsibility for compliance with guidelines and other regulations will lie with each MSO independently.

According to the guidelines, each MSO will have to ensure encryption of signals and addressability of subscribers in all circumstances, and provide access of all the systems and the networks, used to provide broadcasting distribution network services, to the concerned broadcasters for audit as per the regulations and the authorised officers of the government and their representatives whenever demanded.

The sharing of head-end used for cable TV services & transport streams transmitting signals of TV channels, among MSOs is permitted on a voluntary basis, said the ministry.

Any MSO willing to share its transport stream of TV channels with another MSO should ensure that the latter has valid written interconnection agreements with concerned broadcasters for distribution of pay TV channels to the subscribers. They may share the common hardware for their SMS applications. But, the details of such arrangements should be reported to the MIB, the Trai, and the concerned broadcasters, 30 days in advance.

As per the guidelines:

·Each MSO shall be accountable for ensuring the integrity and security of the CAS and the SMS data pertaining to such distributor.

·Each MSO shall maintain the backup of transaction logs and data of the CAS and the SMS, on a near real-time basis, for at least the past two years, at any point in time, on a secondary storage device.

·Each MSO shall undertake to provide access of the CAS and the SMS, used to provide broadcasting distribution network services, to the concerned broadcasters for the purpose of audit as per the regulations and the authorised officers of the government and their representatives whenever demanded.

·Each MSO sharing its infrastructure and transport streams of TV channels with other MSO, should set up systems and processes which ensure that the broadcasters are able to exercise their right of disconnection of signals in case of default of payment or due to any other reason, in terms of the interconnection agreement entered into between the broadcaster and the distributor and the relevant regulations in place.

Under the new guidelines, the new applicant and existing licensee will jointly submit a detailed proposal for infrastructure sharing giving details of the infrastructure proposed to be shared and in the manner, infrastructure is proposed to be shared as well as roles and responsibilities of each to MIB. “The adherence and compliance to all the provisions of the rules and guidelines issued by MIB for grant of license to the MSO operator will be the responsibility of the existing operator and the new applicant proposing to share the infrastructure to the extent as may be required / applicable individually,” it added.

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