In a move that would make India’s broadcast and cable industry heave a sigh of relief, regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the deadline for making submissions to its consultation paper on cable TV’s market structure and inherent competition.
“The stakeholders have sought extension of time for sending their comments on the consultation paper on Market Structure/ Competition in Cable TV Services. In view of this, it has been decided to extend the last date for submission of written comments,” the regulator said in a public statement.
The discussion paper, issued late October, primarily is aimed at exploring whether monopolies were building up in the cable TV distributions sector or not.
A similar exercise was carried out by TRAI in 2012 also, but as the landscape has changed since then, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting requested the regulator to examine fresh issues related to monopoly and market dominance.
Some industry observers had earlier opined that a cursory reading of the consultation paper gave a feeling that TRAI, probably, was attempting to rein in the cable sector and also stop creation of monopolies of any type through mergers and acquisition.
Some of the discussion or talking points raised by the regulator include the following:
- Given that there are multiple options for consumers for availing television services, do you think that there is sufficient competition in the television distribution sector?
- Considering the current regulatory framework and the market structure, do you think there is a need to regulate the issue of monopoly/oligopoly/market dominance in the cable TV services?
- Keeping in view the market structure of the television broadcast sector, suggest proactive measures that may address impending issues related to monopoly/market dominance in the cable TV sector?
- Do you think that there are entry barriers in the Indian cable television sector? If yes, please provide the list and suggest suitable measures to address these? Do provide full justification for your response.
- Do you think there is a need to regulate LCOs to protect the interest of consumers and ensure growth/competition in the cable TV sector?
- What should be the norms of sharing infrastructure at the level of LCO to enable broadband services through the cable television infrastructure for last mile access? Is there a possibility that LCO may gain undue market control over broadband and other services within its area of operation?
- What should be the relevant market for measuring the market power of cable services?
- Can a State or city or sub-city be identified as a relevant geographic market for cable television services? What should be the factors in consideration while defining a relevant geographic market for cable television services?
- Do you think that MSOs and their JVs should be treated as a single entity, while considering their strength in the relevant market?
- Which method is best suited for measuring the level of competition or market concentration of MSOs or LCOs in a relevant market?
- Do you think that HHI (Herfindahl-Hirschman Index) is appropriate to measure market concentration of MSOs in the relevant market?
- Do you think that there should be assessment of competition at LCOs level on district/ town basis?
- In cases where a MSO controls more than the prescribed threshold, what measures/ methodology should be adopted to regulate so as to bring the market share/HHI below the threshold level?
- Do you think that DTH services are not a perfect substitute for cable television services? If yes, how the relevant market of DTH service providers differs with that of MSOs or other television distribution platform owners?
- M&A in the cable TV sector may lead to adoption of monopolistic practices by MSOs. Suggest the measures for curbing the monopolistic activities in the market.
- Ease of doing business should not be adversely affected by measures/regulations to check merger and acquisitions. What compliance mechanism or regulations should be brought on M&A to ensure that competition is not affected adversely, while ensuring no adverse impact on Ease of Doing Business?
- Should TRAI restrict the ambit of its recommendations only on certain kinds of MSOs?
- Do you agree with the disclosure and monitoring requirements mentioned in the 2013 recommendations to monitor the TV distribution market effectively from the perspective of monopoly/market dominance?
- Is there a need to recommend cross-holding restrictions amongst various categories of distribution platforms/service providers?