We need more transparency in cable TV sector especially on how much we are paying for a paid channel, more choices in choosing channel packs and most important protecting our interest from the cooperate cable operators and broadcasters. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has now come up with new rules to safeguard the interest of viewers.
According to the new TRAI tariff order dated 2017, broadcasters will have to declare their channels as ‘Pay’ or ‘Free-to-Air’ (FTA). They will be given complete flexibility to declare the maximum retail price (MRP) of their pay channels to subscribers with no restrictions as long as the channels are provided individually. But if the channels are paid as part of a bouquet then the price cannot be more than Rs 19.
“Guiding principles for such move is to bring in transparency into the sector, consumer protection and giving them choices, clarity and non-discrimination,” said R S Sharma, TRAI Chairman.
Other key highlights from TRAI New Tariff Order
- TV channel distributors can charge a Network Capacity Fee of maximum Rs 130 per month from a subscriber. This is for subscribing to a network capacity of 100 SD (standard definition) channels. So, you will basically get 100 TV channels by paying Rs 130 per month.
- Broadcasters need to publically declare the maximum retail price (MRP) per month of their a-la-carte pay channels.
- In order to provide choice to customers, and to cut the skewe price of a-la-carte or individual channels when compared to bouquets, a broadcaster can offer a maximum discount of 15 percent on a bouquet of pay channels over the sum of MRPs of all the pay channels in that bouquet. This is to ensure the subscriber is not forced to take unwanted channels.
- The MRP of a bouquet of pay channels cannot be less than 85 percent of the total MRP of the a-la-carte channels in the bouquet.
- There will be separate bouquet for pay channels and free-to-air channels.
- Customer will have the freedom to choose any free-to-air channels, pay channels or bouquet of pay channels.
- No separate charges, other than the Network Capacity Fee to be paid by subscribers when choosing only free-to-air channels.
- Beyond 100 SD channels, you can subscribe to a slab of 25 SD channels for Rs 20 a month.
- Cable operators need to offer all channels in its network to customers on an a-la-carte basis.
- In a bouquet, there shall not be both HD and SD variant of the same channel.
Summing up, now you have the complete freedom to choose from any pay channel and importantly free-to-air channels. So basically you can avoid the free-to-air channels you don’t want. In addition, you can subscribe 100 SD channels by paying Rs 130 per month.
When will this happen? It will take around six months for the implementation of the order. It can get further delayed if broadcasters drag the order to courts and telecom commission.