Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) deadline to pick DTH and Cable TV under the new price regime has ended. Earlier, the apex regulatory authority had extended the deadline for selecting the channels to March 31. From today onwards, the subscriber will be moved to the 'Best Fit Plan'. The Best Fit Plan is TRAI's offering for the users who did not or failed to pick their desired channels for their subscription. The idea behind the move was to let customers pick and pay for the channels they watched, rather than opt for packs offered by the companies.
From today onwards, subscribers who have already paid for beyond the deadline of March 31, and have not opted for channels will be migrated to the plans prepared by the companies based on the users usage pattern, language spoken etc. TRAI has also said that the charge for new best fit plan will not exceed the amount user already pays.
Initially, TRAI had set the deadline for subscriber migration as January 31 but extended it to March 31 after it felt that the consumers were facing issues as the subscription plans were not appropriately setup by the operators. However, back then TRAI had made it clear that it won't be extending the deadline any further and the subscribers who have not picked any channel packs will be migrated to a 'Best Fit' plan' based on their existing subscription.
Trai had launched channel selector application for the users to pick channels. The users could also preview their TV bills using the app. Most of the DTH service providers are running channel selection option on their website and mobile application.
Under the new tariff structure, all users will need to subscribe to base channel pack, which will reportedly cost Rs 130 plus 18 per cent of the GST, which comes to Rs 154. This pack will give users access to a total of 100 free-to-air channels. Consumers have complete freedom to choose their desired 100 Standard Definition (SD) channels within the network capacity fee of maximum Rs 130. "The desired channels could be in a-la-carte free-to-air channels or pay channels or bouquet of pay channels or any combination thereof. The choice completely rests with the consumers," said TRAI.
According to data from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, 50 per cent of TV viewers only watch around 30 channels while operators offer 300-odd channels. So customers were paying for channels they never watched, and TRAI wants to change that.
Meanwhile, TRAI has also said that the TV viewers will be able to switch their DTH or cable service providers without changing the set top box (STB) by the end of this year.
"Since last two years we have been trying to make STBs interoperable. Large part of problem has been resolved. There are some business challenges (which) remain... we are looking at this to happen by end of this year," TRAI Chairman R S Sharma had said.
Edited By: Udit Verma