In a major relief to the average Indian consumer who still gets their daily dose of entertainment by watching television, telecom regulatory body TRAI has brought a major reform to make DTH and cable services more affordable.

This order, which has been pending since 2016 due to a legal tussle between Star India and TRAI, was passed by the Supreme Court last month and is aimed at capping the maximum prices of channels to prevent consumers from being over-charged. These guidelines will go into effect starting December 29 this year .

DTH and Cable TV in India to Get Much Cheaper After TRAI's New Regulation on Pricing

Broadcasters Will Set MRP For Channels

In a number of ways, these regulations will ease the burden on consumers’ pockets. First and foremost, broadcasters like ZEE Network, Sony Entertainment Television, and the likes will be responsible for setting the prices of these channels and not the distributors i.e. DTH operators like Tata Sky or cable providers. Therefore, broadcasters are obligated to set maximum retail prices (MRP) for each channel and distributors will not be able to sell these channels for higher than the MRP.

Standard Free-to-Air Package For All Providers

Secondly, users will get 100 “free-to-air” channels in standard definition, which include Doordarshan, Star Bharat, and Zee Anmol. But these channels are not exactly free and users will have to pay a minimum operating fee of Rs 130 for these.

No Bundling of Free and Paid Channels

Broadcasters will provide each channel to distributors on an a-la-carte basis. Distributors will be responsible for clubbing channels into relevant bundles but the a-la-carte “pay” channels cannot be combined with free channels. Moreover, standard and high definition channels must be offered in separate bundles.

Separate SD and HD Bundles

Channels which are priced more than Rs 19 on a-la-carte basis cannot be bundled with other channels and must be offered to the user individually. This will save the user from the burden of having to buy an entire bundle or a “bouquet” of premium channels just to enjoy a single channel. Under the new rules, SD channels cannot be bundled with HD channels from the same broadcaster, so you are not paying twice for the same paid channel.

DTH Operators in India Track Viewership for Better Ad Placement Using Return Path Data

The motive behind the move is to deter DTH and cable operators from imposing such “bouquets” on consumers in an attempt to sell unpopular channels with the popular ones. This act helps the unwanted channels to get pseudo impressions and thus a modest amount of revenue from advertising. “By promoting bundles, not only can they maximise ad revenue of niche channels but the subscription revenue of distributors also goes up, and that is when consumer interest goes for a toss“, a TRAI official told The Ken.

Free Bundles With MRP

Lastly, TRAI has also instructed distributors to make bundles comprising only the free 100 channels so that users, who do not wish to pay more than Rs 130 per month can opt for this. Further, distributors must offer these bundles in multiples of 25, with the maximum rate per 25 standard definition channels capped to a maximum of Rs 20.

DTH and Cable TV in India to Get Much Cheaper After TRAI's New Regulation on Pricing

As a result of TRAI’s new regulations, television viewing is not only set to get cheaper but also focused around content. To keep consumers engaged with the new bundles, broadcasters will have to ensure that they push new and exciting content or suffer the wrath of a bored customer.

Comments

9 COMMENTS

  1. Cable TV, in general, is a saga of technology institution by stealth, cart coming before the horse (practice rooting before legislation) and confusion propagating over clouding of subscriber by Cable Operators( DTH excluded being a service without this intermediary of Cable Operator). MIB and TRAI both seem to be more influenced by elite broadcaster management with clear lack of knowledge of ground realities. Policies made in closed rooms and enshrined in minutes of meeting keep gathering dust in almirahs of offices. Ground reality is DAS is implemented only to the extent of deemed cessation of analog transmission from Headend and imposition of seeded Set Top Boxes, paid for by subscribers without transfer of lien. Proclamation of DAS implementation is a farce. DTH apart, the fact is that subscriber is charged a fixed monthly subscription for viewing video content and a percentage is remitted by cable operator to HEP(Headend Service Provider popularly called MSO). MIB failed to implement CAS from 2003 to 2007 and now DAS from 2011 till date. Cable Operators should file and seek repeal of DAS legislation as non-implementable viewed from ground realities. Why have laws which cannot be implemented as legislated ?

  2. Why are we paying a hefty fee and still forced to watch 20% to 30% or more airtime advertisements. Can’t the Channels further reduce subscription basis ad income? If it’s a paid channel, why is there ads?

  3. To,
    The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India aka DCRAI
    Shri. Anil Bhardwaj, Advisor (B&CS) Email : [email protected]
    Shri. Arvind Kumar, Advisor (B&CS) Email : [email protected]

    Sir’s
    Apropos to the half -day Interactive Session on ” New Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting & Cable Services” conducted by the TRAI in Delhi today. i.e. 19.11.2018 and w.r.t the Press Release No. 112/ 2018 issued at New Delhi on 19th November 2018 by Secretary TRAI.

    Where we find it pertinent to mention that a good initiative undertaken by the authority wherein it have highlighted the benefits of the new regulatory framework in broadcasting sector, with emphasis put on ” Transparency, Non-discrimination, Protection of Consumer interest and enabling orderly growth of the sector remain the core philosophy of new framework”
    Whereas we are also finding it imperative to draw the attention of this authority to Annexure-A of the aforesaid Press Release No. 112/ 2018 issued (Brief on New Regulatory Framework in Broadcasting and Cable sector) referring to point No. 9 ….” In the previous regime customers were forced with buying bouquets of channels thereby limiting their choice. Even the FTA’s were being bundled in bouquets to enhance the uptake of bouquets. ” ….
    However on ” How the new regulatory framework addresses issues and enables Customers ? ” states as here under :-
    a). The Broadcasters have been given complete flexibility to price their channels on a-la-carte basis.
    b). A Customer will have choice to subscribe channels on a-la-carte basis. While the broadcasters have freedom to make bouquets, the bouquet cannot contain FTA Channels, channels with MRP more than Rs.19, HD and SD variant of the same channels. This will protect the interest of the consumers, so as to avoid illusory offers and perverse pricing.

    Our immediate concern is on composition of bouquet(s) where the broadcasters have freedom to make bouquets, if not been exercised as per the prescribed and notified T.O 2017 namely The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2017, that clearly also prescribes :
    Provided further that the maximum retail price per month of such bouquet of pay channels shall not be less than eighty five percent of the sum of maximum retail prices per month of the a-la-carte pay channels forming part of that bouquet:

    Then we would like to state here, that this entire exercise can be easily termed as gone futile, that have been conducted by the authority only upon an order passed by the Hon’ble TDSAT dated 28.04.2015 that was further upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide its order dated 04.08.2015. where the Consumer interest is not been protected at all by the authority from predatory pricing, as similar was in the previous regime, wherein customers were forced with buying bouquets of channels with illusory offers and perverse pricing, thereby limiting their choice.

    Moreover, this entire exercise undertaken by the authority, if gone futile without any protection of Consumer interest, will always give rise to a needle of suspicion on the true intent of the regulator / authority, where now the popular Pay TV channel(s) that were priced and offered for Rs. 7 and Rs. 8 have now been priced at Rs. 19. as per the MRP declared by the respective Pay TV broadcasters. Interestingly the MRP fixed for these same pay TV channels by the authority itself, about 12 years back was Rs. 5/-
    Whereas its a well known fact to everyone, who is even little versed, with the administered prices would know that cost of the providing the services has decreased.

    In view of the aforesaid and our previous communication dated 12.11.2019 made to the authority, we request a clarification issued at the earliest in the interest of consumers.
    An early response after taking appropriate corrective measures, shall be highly appreciated by all

    Thanking you
    For Home Cable Network [P] Limited

    Vikki Choudhry
    Director
    also a Consumer of Television Services

  4. All free channels have become pay channels after trai order …they will provide 100 unknown unwanted channels for rupees 130 … before writing do homework on news properly

    • ” these channels are not exactly free and users will have to pay a minimum operating fee of Rs 130″ is what we’re written in context of the so-called “free” channels. These include the likes of Doordarshan, Zee Anmol, Star Bharat, and many more random channels.

      Since, the order is yet to be enforced, we are yet to find out how the pricing will exactly be, but from what we can see, it will be better than the current prices for DTH. Honestly, I don’t think cable users will benefit from it as much as DTH ones will.

      We did our homework!

      • Currently I am using Airtel DTH superstar Karnataka pack from October 18 for one year on recharge of 2999 (305 per month plan) which contains 48 hd channels and channels from all category …if new rules comes in for same I will need to pay at least 200 more as I have seen major four broadcasters pricing for ever channel than how will it benefit user like me…so i feel family audience may benefit , but not the costumer who watches sports, cartoon, lifestyle, music, regional, news, movies….see pricing of just these broadcasters ( zee, star, tv18 sun Sony) and their bouquet and then reply then pen reply on uses of trai new ruling

        • Thanks for the lead. I will read more about the rates per region and also try and get in touch with DTH providers for more clarity.

    • Yes, Rs 130 for the otherwise free channels. I’m not sure if you’d be able to catch DD channels without an antenna anymore.

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