Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been regulating Telecom & Broadcasting Services, mainly driven by the objective of protecting the interests of service providers and Subscribers / TV Viewers over the years.
TRAI has played an important role in shaping the regulatory and policy framework governing the sector by making timely interventions through regulations, tariff orders, directions and recommendations to the Government.
As per present Regulatory framework, Broadcasters are permitted to offer promotional schemes on maximum retail price per month of its a-la-carte pay channels. However, such scheme should not exceed ninety days at a time and the frequency of any such scheme should not exceed twice in a calendar year. It is further mandated that the price of a-la-carte pay channels offered under any such promotional scheme should be considered as maximum retail price during the period of such promotional scheme.
It has also been observed that some Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) offering a large number of (Free to Air ) FTA channels free of cost to the subscriber without taking any additional Network Capacity Fee (NCF). However, these are the specific channels chosen by the DPO and subscribers do not have the choice to choose the channels. One way of looking this offering could be that as they are not asking money from the subscriber and therefore there should be no problem and these are complimentary in nature. However, if you look from other angle, it will be very clear that it is distorting the market and DPO are giving preferential treatment to some of the channels.
In fact, the Authority noted that in order to provide flexibility to distributors of television channels and protect the interests of Subscribers / TV Viewers the ceiling of Rs. 130/- has been prescribed. Distributors of television channels are free to fix Network Capacity Fee below this ceiling. However, the Network Capacity Fee will be agnostic to the type of the channels carried over the network. It cannot vary based on the channels subscribed by a subscriber.
TRAI has also received several customers complaints wherein consumes have shown concerns about the mandatory DD channels within one hundred channels. They are of the view that since NCF is prescribed to cater for 100 SD channels capacity, subscribers must be allowed the freedom to select 100 SD channels. Mandatory 25 channels of DD are an additional burden on the TV Viewers. They are of the opinion that either customers should be given freedom not to choose any/all DD mandatory channels or these channels should be over and above the 100 channels selected by the subscriber. The Authority observed channels notified by Central Government to be mandatorily provided to all the subscribers, any change in the rules made by MIB cannot be superseded by the Regulations.
However, the Authority may give recommendations after due consultation process on this issue. Another way of solving this problem could be that there is no additional cost on DPO in offering these 25-mandatory channels over and above the One hundred channels chosen by the subscriber in the NCF of Rs. 130/- particularly looking at the trends where large number of FTA channels are being provided by few DPOs without any additional NCF over 100 permitted channels. Therefore, these channels can be excluded from the One hundred channels for which freedom has been given to the subscribers.
Written Comments on the Consultation Paper are invited from the stakeholders by 16th September and Counter Comments may be submitted by 30th September 2019.
To View Complete Information on Some Issues for Consultation & Comparison of Prices of Channels declared by Broadcasters in Old Framework and New framework, Please Click Here Consultation Paper No.: 10/2019, Dated 16th August, 2019.