Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued amendments to the New Tariff Order (NTO), under which cable operators need to mandatorily provide as many as 200 channels for Rs 153 a month (including taxes) to their subscribers.
"TRAI has examined various provisions in detail and accordingly mandated provision of 200 channels in maximum fee (network capacity fee or NCF) of Rs 130 excluding taxes per month," a statement said. Right now, DTH or cable TV operators provide only 100 channels for a fee of Rs 153 (Rs 130 excluding taxes) a month.
Significantly, the Trai has also capped the amount consumers will have to pay monthly for all free to air channels at Rs 160. The announcement means cable TV users will be able to access more channels at lower subscription price. The operators have been told to announce new pricing structure by January 15.Trai, in a statement, said the decision has been taken to protect interests of all the stakeholders, particularly consumers.
It has also been decided that in case of multi-TV homes, where more than one TV connection is working in the name of one person, it will charge a maximum of 40 per cent of declared fee for the second and additional TV connections.
Channels declared mandatory by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will not be counted in the number of channels in the NCF. Earlier, there was no cap on number of channels in the FTA (free-to-air) category. So now, some niche channels will move towards the FTA.
The new regulatory framework has also been introduced to address the issue of huge discount in formation of bouquets by broadcasters compared to a-la-carte channels. To ensure that prices of a-la-carte channels do not become illusionary, Trai has come up with twin conditions.
The sum of the a-la-carte rates of the pay channels (MRP) forming part of a bouquet should not exceed one and half times the rate of the bouquet of which such pay channels are a part. Also, the a-la-carte rates of each pay channel, forming part of a bouquet, should not exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is a part.
Additionally, the authority has decided that only those channels, which have MRP of Rs 12 or less will be permitted to be part of the bouquet offered by broadcasters, which means a la carte channel ceiling cost will now come down from Rs 19 to Rs 12.
A cap of Rs 4 lakh per month has been prescribed on carriage fee payable by a broadcaster to an operator in a month for carrying a channel in the country, the TRAI said.The authority has considered giving more flexibility to DPOs to place the TV channels on Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and mandated that channel of a language in a genre will be kept together while placing channels on EPG. Such EPG layout is to be mandatorily reported to the TRAI and no change in this can be done without prior approval of the authority, the statement said.
The new amendment in rules could affect broadcast operators' revenues by lowering the average revenue per user, which had grown up to 60 per cent after changes in rules last year, suggest experts. The new rules are part of the changes the regulator has made to its 2017 tariff order for broadcasting and cable TV services. They will be effective from March.
Edited by Manoj Sharma