March 2020


This Article Provides An Overview Of IPTV & Laws Governing It In India


IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a system where digital TV, instead of being delivered through traditional format & cabling, is received by the viewer through the technologies used for computer networks. IPTV requires either a computer & software media player or an IPTV Set Top Box to decode the video. The digital video (Live TV or Video On Demand) is transmitted using the same structure (Protocol) of data packets, used for the Internet, hence the term IP.

The first IPTV service in India was launched in October 2006 by the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). This was, in fact 2 years before the government put in place regulations and guidelines for roll out of IPTV in the country

MTNL Launched IPTV India In October 2006


To enable consumers access to television content over broadband, the Union Cabinet on August 21, 2008 approved guidelines that permitted broadcasters to share their content with IPTV service providers. The (then) Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Priyranjan Dasmunsi, while announcing the Cabinet's decision stated, "Issuance of guidelines on IPTV will bring clarity on defining the parameters in which such providers will work as also clarifying how these services are going to be regulated."

Based on this Cabinet approval, the MIB issued policy guidelines for operation of IPTV services in India. These are available at: broadcasting/policy-guidelines-iptv-service-india


The MIB guidelines have granted the right to provide IPTV services by any of the following:

  1. Telecom service providers licensed to provide 'Triple Play' services.
  2. Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") with net worth of more than ₹ 100 crores & having permission to provide IPTV services.
  3. Any other telecom service provider authorized by the Department of Telecom ("DoT"),
  4. Cable TV operators registered under Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 ("Cable Act")

The I&B Ministry issued IPTV Guidelines In 2008


There is no requirement for the above service providers to obtain any fresh licenses or registrations.

However, such service providers must submit a selfcertified declaration to the concerned authorities, giving details of their existing license/registration under which, the IPTV services are proposed to be provided. (see Annexure-1)

Any Licensed DAS MSO Can Launch IPTV Services Without Additional Licenses Or Fees


Cable TV Headends are not required to pay any additional license fee to commence IPTV delivery. They will continue to be governed by the laws and fee applicable for Cable TV delivery. This is a huge advantage for Cable TV Headends that decide to launch their IPTV platform.

Similarly, ISPs & telecom service providers continue to be governed by their ISP or telecom license fee. They will have to pay a percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) as license fee, as is applicable for their license.

If a telecom service provider or ISP licenses itself as a cable operator, and provides IPTV services using telecom resources, it shall still be liable to pay fees as applicable to a telecom service provider providing IPTV services (i.e a percentage of the AGR).


The IPTV Guidelines do not propose any new law to regulate these services.

IPTV services are regulated under the Cable Act, which details the Programme & Advertisement codes.


All IPTV service providers shall transmit only such broadcast satellite channels, which have been approved by the MIB.

(This is to ensure that telecom service providers are not allowed to create content as this in turn may indirectly breach the prescribed Foreign Direct Investment ("FDI") cap in the respective media and telecom sectors.)

IPTV platforms are also required to carry all "Must Carry' channels that Cable TV & DTH platforms are mandated to carry, from time to time.

Broadcasters are also required to share their content with IPTV platforms, on the same basis and rates applicable to Cable TV & DTH distribution.

IPTV Content Must Conform To The Cable Act


Cable operators providing IPTV services need to ensure that the IPTV STBs provided by them, meet BIS specifications for IPTV STBs as published by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).


To ensure that consumer interests are not ignored, the IPTV Guidelines prescribe that IPTV service providers must provide commercial interoperability, i.e. a consumer can switch his STB to a DTH or CATV STB at minimal cost. This can be accomplished by providing STBs not only on outright purchase basis but also on hire purchase/rental basis,with a provision to return STBs.


The IPTV service provider is limited to the same FDI Cap as the sector under which its license is issued.

The telecom sector has a 74% cap on FDI.

Cable TV has a 49% FDI Cap under the automatic route. Since June 2016, this has been relaxed to 100%, but requires existing license holders to seek prior approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for infusion of fresh FDI beyond 49%. 100% FDI is automatic only for new license applicants. n


The primary difference between IPTV and OTT streaming is:

IPTV uses a private, dedicated network to deliver reliable & consistent service. The network is owned, maintained and managed by the IPTV service provider.

OTT content is streamed over the (public) internet, which is an open, unmanaged network. Quality of the network and its capability to deliver video to the end user, will vary with the quality of service delivered by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the download speeds subscribed to by the consumer.


[See Para (ii) of the Policy Guidelines for provisioning of IPTV services] [Separate copies to be forwarded by IPTV service provider to Secretary, I&B Ministry, Department of Telecom and TRAI]

    • Name of the IPTV service provider (individual/firm/ company/association of persons/body of individuals) **
    • Age/Date of establishment/Date of Incorporation
  1. Details of Registration as a Cable Operator (if applicable)
    • Name/Address of the Post Office with which registered
    • Registration No. / Validity up to
    • Copy of the Registration Certificate (enclose)
  2. Details of Telecom License (if applicable)
    • Date of issuance of license
    • Validity upto
    • Copy of the license agreement
  3. Complete Postal Address with Telephone / Fax No. / E-mail ID
    • Corporate Office/Head Office
    • Registered Office
    • Regional Offices
    • Address for Correspondence
  4. Name of authorized contact person, his designation and telephone/fax No./E-mail ID
  5. *Registration detail under Companies Act, 1956: Incorporation No. and Date (Attach a copy of Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum and Article of Associations)
  6. *Board of Directors (Attach list of Directors along with bio-data of each Director giving date of birth, place of birth, parentage, nationality, permanent address, residential address, official address, passport No. (if any), qualification, experience, etc.
  7. *Attach list of key executives including CEO/MD along with details as in 7 above.
  8. *(i) Authorized Share Capital, (ii) Paid-up Share Capital
    • *Shareholding pattern of the applicant company in the table 1 and 2 : to be annexed as per format given)
    • *In case there is any foreign investment direct or indirect in the applicant company then whether complying with Foreign investment norms/ FIPB approval requirement (details).
    • Present Area of Operation (if in more than one city, city-wise details to be given).
    • Details of the area in which IPTV services are sought to be provided
    • Date from which IPTV services are proposed to be offered
    • Total no. of existing subscribers
    • Subscribers proposed to be covered by IPTV service
    • No. and details of TV channels sought to be provided (own/broadcasters’)
    • Source of content (Broadcaster/MSO/Cable operator) with details
    • In case the content is obtained from MSO/Local cable operator, whether such MSO/Cable operator possesses due rights from the content owner/ broadcaster for the IPTV platform
  9. Other value added services proposed to be provided (details along with how authorized/approvals obtained from competent authority/technical details). Arrangements made to ensure compliance of Programme and Advertisement Code (Details)
  10. How is the requirement of commercial interoperability of Set Top Boxes sought to be complied with?
  11. Arrangements made/proposed to be made to comply with content storage/content monitoring requirements as contained in the Guidelines (Give full details)

I/We ………………………………….., the applicant(s)

**(individual/firm/ company/association of persons/body of individuals) do hereby declare that the above facts are correct in all respects.

I/We hereby undertake to abide by all the conditions contained in the Guidelines for provisioning of IPTV services and any future amendments thereto/directions/ orders/regulations that the Central Government or the TRAI may lay down/issue for the provisioning of IPTV services or any other law as may be applicable.

Signature / Authorized person
of persons/body of individuals)

Place ………………. Name ……………….…………....….….

Date ……………….. Address ……………………….……....

* To be given in case applicant is a Company

** Score out the word or words which are not applicable.