Infrastructure status to Cable Sector : TRAI

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) that the broadcasting and cable service sector be granted infrastructure status.
“The authority recommends that given the importance of the cable services sector in expanding television services as well as broadband services, the government may consider and grant ‘infrastructure status’ to ‘broadcasting and cable services sector’,” the industry regulator said in its recommendations on ‘Ease of doing business in telecom and broadcasting sector’.
The grant of infrastructure status has been a long pending demand of the broadcasting sector. The authority also recommended that the MIB should specify stage-wise timelines for the process of grant of each licence, registration, and permission in a similar manner as has been done for uplinking and downlinking permission for TV channels.
The ministry should prescribe timelines for additional permissions required during the lifecycle of the licence and the timelines should be incorporated in the respective guidelines as well as the citizen charter/broadcast seva portal, it said.
The authority reiterated that the government should establish a Centre of Excellence or align with a Centre of Excellence established by other ministries/departments to study technical, economic, social, and legal aspects of broadcasting services.
On issues related to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clearance, Trai said the MIB should issue explicit guidelines, and the process of security clearance of an applicant company, and its key personnel should be made end-to-end online.
The regulator said the MIB may prescribe a standard undertaking to be submitted by each service provider on an annual basis to ensure compliance.
“Such undertaking should certify that either no change in management/ownership control has happened during the year or that the changes in the management/ownership structure have been submitted and requisite permission has been duly received (as applicable),” it said.
Trai suggested that the online portal should provide an option to broadcasters or teleport operators to make payment of the annual permission fee either for one year or more than one year. Refund of the annual fee paid in advance by the broadcaster must not be permitted in any case, it said.
The authority stated that the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the Department of Telecom (DoT) should charge the spectrum royalty fee for temporary uplinking of live events on a pro-rata basis for the actual number of days of the event on the basis of per day charges instead of charging for the entire month. It asked the MIB to take up the matter with WPC.

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