TRAI issues new cable and DTH price order

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) announced a new order for DTH broadcast and cable services sector.
TRAI chairmanThe order — effective from December 29 — will enable consumers to make informed choices and pay only for the channels that they want to watch.

More than 90 percent of TV homes view or flip 50 or fewer number of television channels according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) estimates. Any analysis that keeps 250 or more channels for pricing of monthly tariff creates a false impression, TRAI said.

TRAI said nearly 90 percent of TV homes watch less than 50 channels. TRAI said the fee would be Rs 130 for watching a basic tier of 100 channels. There will be no additional charge for providing any free to air channel.

Any subscriber, who opts for more than 100 channels, can select additional channels in each slab of 25 channel at the rates of Rs 20 per slab.

It added that DTH service providers or cable operators can not take money for free-to-air channels from consumers. TRAI has put up the MRP of channels being offered by broadcasters on its website.

“It has come to our knowledge that certain stakeholders are spreading misinformation with ulterior motives to create fears in the minds of consumers regarding the implementation of the new regulatory framework, which are unfounded,” TRAI Chairman RS Sharma told media.

TRAI said overall prices for DTH or cable connection will come down. The new regulation provides for complete transparency on pay-channel pricing structure.

Besides the new tariff order, the regulatory framework includes interconnection regulations and quality of service norms for the broadcast sector.

Industry issues

TRAI noted that some LCOs believe that the new regime will bring down their revenues from cable business. TRAI said the new framework will bring in a structure of assured revenue for MSO and LCO under the network capacity fee.

LCOs have the flexibility to negotiate their revenue share with the MSOs as per the structure provided by MIA. The new framework will not alter the prevailing market structure under MIA / SIA base regime that exists since March 2016.

The underlying standard interconnect agreement mitigates the risks of LCOs that can arise out of delayed / failed negotiations. In the previous regime such delayed or failed negotiations could result in black-out. The availability of a fall-back mechanism under SIA regime protects the interests of LCOs and consumers from any blak-out or disconnection of signals, TRAI said in its notification.