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New TRAI rule for DTH : TV viewers confused between basic package and a-la-carte channels

Ajita Shashidhar     February 8, 2019

The new TRAI regulation on television channel pricing not just promises transparency, it also allows the consumers to pay for the channel he/she watches. In fact, ever since the regulation has been announced, broadcasters have been shelling out crores on promoting themselves and their bouquet of channels. The regulation has suddenly forced broadcasters from focusing just on distribution strategies to come up with brand-led strategies. However, the first one-week of the new tariff regime, as per data by media research company, Chrome DM, is certainly not heartening for the broadcasters.

The Chrome study, conducted in 42 cities, across 11 states reveals that 2794440 TV subscribers are yet to subscribe to any of the broadcasters bouquet and cable TV operators across 35 cities have actually switched off paid TV channels.

"Though the new tariff order is a great move, but there is still a long way to go before consumers will actually start using their right to pay for what they want to watch. The consumers right now are confused," points out Pankaj Krishna, CEO, Chrome DM.

The confusion as to what to subscribe and what not to subscribe prevails among DTH consumers too. "DTH platforms have created their own bouquets which reflect in the default setting, and 99 per cent consumers click on the default setting," explains Krishna.

But the DTH packages offer multi-genre channels, and the moment the consumers prefer to buy the broadcaster bouquets, the confusion begins. "If you want to buy Star's Hindi premium package (priced at Rs 79), some DTH operators will charge you even for the basic package which is priced at Rs 49. So, you end up paying for two bouquets," says Krishna. If consumers actually buy channels a-la-carte they have to Rs 19, per channel (if it is a premium channel such as Star Plus, Colors or Star Sports) which could prove to be quite expensive.

Will the current confusion see more consumers migrating towards OTT platforms? Quite possible. The new tariff order seems to have come a little late in the day, as consumers, especially in the urban areas, have already started switching allegiance to OTT platforms.

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