The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has kicked off a consultation exercise on issues related to the TV broadcasting sector, in which it has also asked the stakeholders if “DD Free Dish“, the free direct-to-home (DTH) operator owned by Prasar Bharati Doordarshan, needs to be brought under the Trai regulatory framework.
Currently, DD Free Dish is a non-addressable platform as the majority of the set-top boxes (STBs) through which its service is accessed are unencrypted. The TRAI’s tariff and regulations don’t apply to DD Free Dish since it is a Free DTH platform. The regulator has asked the TV broadcast industry to give their views on upgrading DD Free Dish to an addressable platform. The TRAI has also requested input from stakeholders about the migration process for DD Free Dish to become an addressable platform as well as the timeline for implementing the proposed migration plan.
The distribution platform operators (DPOs) have been lobbying for years with the government to regulate DD Free Dish, which has become a distribution giant and is estimated to reach over 40 million subscribers. DD Free Dish, along with over-the-top (OTT) platforms, has been eating into the subscriber base of pay-TV service providers such as Tata Play, Dish TV, d2h, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct, Hathway Digital, DEN, and NXT Digital. These service providers are collectively referred to as DPOs by the TRAI.
The regulator has also sought views on whether pay channels available on DD Free Dish channels should be made available as FTA channels across all platforms. Currently, certain channels that are listed as pay channels on private distribution platforms are also available as FTA channels on DD Free Dish. If this is implemented then all DTH subscribers will get major pay channels without any extra cost in their basic packages.
If TRAI is ready to make DD Free Dish DTH as Regularly framework then all Free channels will be encrypted for All Subscribers and customers have to pay some certain amount to watch these channels in their DD Free Dish Set Top Boxes like private DTH platforms.
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