Reliance Jio is moving against Broadcasters by taking sides with Cable TV / DTH Operators after TRAI’s Consultation on Tariff related issues on Cable & Broadcast.
Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Jio is favouring Cable TV / DTH Operators & consumer organizations, instead of going with Broadcasters and channel owners, despite the Reliance Group’s stake in TV18 Broadcast.
Reliance Jio owns TV18 Broadcast, one of the four big broadcasting firms in India and recently acquired majority stakes in DEN Networks and Hathway, two of the top cable networks in India. According to response submitted by Jio to TRAI’s Consultation Paper on Tariff related issues on Cable & Broadcast, Reliance Group seems to have decided to side with the consumer organizations and cable operators in this battle and not with the broadcasters.
Broadcasters were forcing customers to buy unwanted channels and filling up their channel quotas.
In its submission, it accused Broadcasters (channel owners) of misusing the new tariff order to push unwanted channels down the throats of consumers and cable operators by making individual channels costly in comparison to packs and bouquets. Jio said, the Broadcasters have misused the flexibility provided to them and have seized the opportunity to maximize revenue. This has increased the monthly subscription cost for the end Customer / Subscribers / TV Viewers significantly and they are unable to exercise choice in real terms.
Broadcasters have increased the prices of their most popular TV channels to Rs. 19/ or close to Rs.19/- for inclusion in bouquets. The less popular channels which have low demand have been priced at nominal amount as low as 50 paise or Rs. 1/- and even Free To Air (FTA) channels have been converted to Pay channels.
These less popular channels and the popular TV channels have been bundled into bouquets, which are offered at deep discounts in the range of 30 – 70% as compared to the sum of their a-la-carte prices. Due to the vast difference between the a-la-carte prices and the bouquet price, a customer will naturally opt for a bouquet.
It pointed out that most of the popular channels are priced in the Rs 19 to Rs. 22 range (including tax).
On the other hand, the prices of bouquets have been deeply discounted sometimes even upto 70% of sum of the a-la-carte prices of the channels in the bouquet. This leaves the Subscriber / TV Viewers with no other option but to opt for a bouquet. The non popular channels are so nominally priced that discount on their individual price is negligible.
Because of such malpractice, Subscriber / TV Viewers are being forced to pay more for their content after the new tariff order came into effect, Jio responded.
As a consequence, the regional and niche channels by smaller broadcasters are not opted by subscribers due to budgetary constraints. Hence, the smaller broadcasters are losing subscribers due to the non level playing field created by the absence of a cap on the discounts on bouquets, Jio pointed out.