The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) rolled out the New Tariff Regime to bring more transparency into Cable TV / DTH & Broadcasting sector. However, not every step that TRAI planned has gone according to the strategy which it set for the consumers and the businesses. One of the drawbacks of the new TRAI tariff regime has been the increasing cost of monthly Cable TV / DTH Bill. This is something that the TV Viewers / Subscribers have not liked.
Now The Authority is planning to correct the TRAI Tariff Regime and floated a new consultation paper to address the issues in the tariff regime.
Here are the areas which it considers for correction.
The Dilemma of the Bouquet Discount
TRAI’s Consultation Paper traces the timeline of the new tariff regime and establishes the premise as to why the regulator had to bring in new rules in the first place. The Customers / TV Viewers used to pay a lot for individual channels as compared to the bundled channels. These bundled channels further used to come with a lot of unnecessary channels which were not required by the subscribers. This used to hinder the choice of subscribers.
With the New Tariff Regime implemented by TRAI, customers can choice channel independently.
TRAI Tariff Regime Went into Effect Without any Discount Cap
In its tariff order of 2017, a maximum discount of 15% was prescribed. Further, Madras High Court had declared that the capping of price of bouquets at 85% of the sum of a-la-carte price of the channels. This was done so that the consumers be in control of what they watch and what they pay for. However, TRAI noted that “Though Tariff Order 2017 was implemented without cap on maximum permissible discount, it was expected that broadcasting industry would own more responsibility and consider the concerns of the subscribers while declaring the prices of their channels, in a-la-carte and bouquet basis.”
With this, TRAI also posed questions to stakeholders like whether or not flexibility available to broadcasters to give discount on sum of a-la-carte channels forming part of bouquets has been misused to push their channels to customers, or whether some broadcasters have indulged in heavy discounting of bouquets by taking advantage of non-implementation of 15% cap on discount. The regulator invited comments from all Stakeholders on whether or not there is a need to review the cap on discount permissible to DPOs while forming the bouquet and what could be an appropriate methodology for it.
TRAI Will Bring Set Top Box Interoperability
TRAI has declared that it will introduce the Set Top Box interoperability by the end of this year. Customers will not have to change existing Set Top Box if they want to switch new Cable TV / DTH operator. At present system, Cable / DTH operators install a new Set Top Box for every new connection, but that will change in the coming days. Right now, TRAI has confirmed that the STB interoperability will be implemented by the end of 2019. Also the regulator will introduce Audit in Cable TV / DTH & CATV Sectors to bring the transparency.