New regulations for DTH and cable service providers drafted by the telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will come into effect from February 1. The regulations allow subscribers to select 100 free-to-air (FTA) channels as their base plan, along with the options of selecting other channels and bouquets a la carte. So, TV viewers will have to select the channels they wish to watch before the next month starts.
The TV broadcasters have already disclosed the prices of the channels and the bouquets for the subscribers to choose. But there is no clarity as to what would happen to existing plans after January 31, the migration deadline for TRAI's new rules for DTH and cable services.
How the new rules work
The new rules by TRAI mandate that subscribers will have to select a base pack worth Rs 153 (Rs 130+18% GST), which will include 100 FTA channels. Apart from the base pack, TV viewers can select other channels a la carte.
For every 25 standard definition channels selected on a la carte basis customers will have to pay a network capacity fee of Rs 20, whereas if the number of channels is below 15, then Re 1 has to be paid as network capacity fee for each of those channels. It means that if you are selecting 114 channels, then you will have to pay Rs 167 (Rs 153+Rs 14). But the total cost for 115 to 125 channels will be Rs 173 (Rs 153+Rs 20).
In case of HD channels, the network capacity fee will be twice that of SD channels.
Customers can also select bouquet plans which should cost a minimum of 85 per cent of the costs of the individual channels combined.
What subscribers should do for now
As per TRAI, all existing plans will be valid till January 31, but we don't know what will happen to them once the deadline closes. Keeping this in mind, subscribers should refrain from buying long-term plans. Short-term plans, spanning a month, would be more favourable. Subscribers can select their desired channels and look into long-terms plans once the new TRAI rules for DTH and cable operators come into effect from February 1.
Edited by Vivek Punj