TRAI Directs Cable Operators to Cap 100 SD Channels at Rs. 130; Sets Slabs of 25 SD Channels at Rs. 20
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) had taken some crucial steps at a time cable operators were looting the customers. Three years down the line, it is back with new set of rules that will benefit the viewers and make the whole subscription scene more transparent.
On a new tariff order released by TRAI, the authorities have said that the broadcasters will have to declare their channels as ‘Free-to-Air’(FTA) or ‘Pay’. Broadcasters have been given the freedom to set the maximum retail price(MRP) of their pay channels to subscribers with no restrictions as long as they offered individually.
“While framing this tariff order, the emphasis of the Authority has been to ensure transparency, non-discrimination, consumer protection and create an enabling environment for orderly growth of the sector,” TRAI said.
Here are the Key highlights of the TRAI New Tariff Order
- If the channel is offered individually, then the broadcaster can price it at whatever tariff they want. However, if it is offered as a part of a bouquet, then the price has to be capped at Rs. 19
- Distributors of television channels are permitted to charge a network capacity fee of maximum of Rs. 130(excluding taxes) per month for 100 standard definition channels. This will lead to a healthy competition and probably better quality of television to the subscribers, according to TRAI
- In order to provide choice to customers, and reduce the skewness of the rates of individual channels, a broadcaster can offer maximum 15% discount on the bouquet of channels to ensure the subscriber isn’t forced to take an irrelevant channel
- So the MRP of a bouquet cannot be more than the total MRP of the a-la-carte channels
- There will be a separate bouquet for a-la-carte and FTA channels, they cannot be clubbed together
- Within the FTA channel bouquets, the subscriber will have the freedom to choose the free channels. The complete list of FTA channels will be provided by the Central Government
- Beyond these 100 channels, the cable operators can offer slabs of 25 SD channels for Rs. 20 a month
- For pay channels, no bouquet can have the SD and HD version of the same channel
This means that if you don’t subscribe to any pay channel at all, you can get 100 SD channels at home and pay just Rs. 130 plus taxes. However, this could also mean that the individual channels become expensive, and your favourite ones might not be a part of the slabs anymore.
This order will have to be put into practice 30 days from the time TRAI notifies all broadcasters. However, these companies might challenge the order in High Court depending on its feasibility. TRAI says that they have released this order after complete consultation and should be able to get through.