TRAI’s DD FreeDish recommendations draw industry flak

TRAI’s DD FreeDish recommendations draw industry flak

The recommendations have set extremely challenging deadlines.


Mumbai: Industry watchdog – the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)  – has bowled another bouncer at the Indian broadcasting sector by recommending tight – and many say impossible deadlines - deadlines for the Prasar Bharti owned DTH operator DD FreeDish.

In its latest round of recommendations, the TRAI has asked it to stop selling non-addressable set top boxes for DD FreeDish by 1 January 2025. The public service broadcaster has been selling these for more than a decade and more than 45 million homes have them. The regulator has advised DD FreeDish to  replace them with indigenously-developed STBs and addressability built in by an organisation such as C-DoT. An additional caveat that has been mentioned is that the boxes should be inter-operable with those of other cable TV netwoks and DTH platforms. It has stated that even private cable TV networks and DTH operators should also take the inter-operable STB route.

The authority has also asked it to start encrypting all private channels on its platform by 1 April 2025, followed by all DD, education, and radio channels within four years.

“This is madness,” said a senior legal counsel at a major broadcasting network. “Does the TRAI know what it is doing? Where are the chips available? The circuits? And inter-operability – which developed market has inter-operable STBs between cable TV and DTH? Each player has his own CAS? I am sure this is going to be challenged very shortly. “

Another broadcasting executive added: “The recommendations make it appear as if the TRAI wanted to placate the DPOs who have been demanding a level playing field between DD and the encrypted platforms. Please check whether  DD and Prasar Bharti expected things to go in the direction that TRAI has said. I don’t expect the recommendations to be implemented in my lifetime.”

( had managed to get only the private sector’s viewpoint and had not managed to get through to either TRAI or Prasar Bharti at the time of writing.)