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Confusion over cable regulations continues

Saturday, February 02, 2019
By Raju Vernekar

While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s new system, which mandates broadcasters to publish the tariffs for each channel, began from Friday, confusion continue to prevail among consumers about paid channels, even as the Cable Operators Distributors Association (CODA) announced to discuss the issue with the Union Information Minister and TRAI officials on February 5.

CODA Chief MLC Anil Parab said that the forms collected from subscribers, will be submitted to Multi System Operators (MSO) only after the issue of 70 per cent commission to cable operators is resolved. If the stalemate continues, then CODA will approach the Supreme Court.

TRAI in a press release stated that “to make the migration of the customers to the new regime easy, the Authority has directed service providers to inform the customers using all available channels of communications such as call centers, website, web portal, advertisement and e-mail etc. and take necessary action in this regard. Under the new framework, the selection of channels and the consequent expenses to be borne depends solely on the choice exercised by customers.

“Switch on your TV and start viewing all the channels one-by-one. Note the number and name of the channels which you want to see on a regular basis. You will find that many channels are neither requested nor have been ever viewed. Do not include such channels in your list. Send the list of selected channels to service providers using their website, app, Call center or through cable operator immediately. Customer can add any channel any time and delete any channel from the list of the selected channel on monthly basis or at the end of subscription period”, says TRAI’s release.

“TV service providers are giving the price of pay channels on Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). Consolidated information of all pay channels and bouquets is given on TV channel 999, in accordance with the rules. In the new framework, the customers will see what has been selected and will pay only for the channels selected. In the new framework, the total monthly bill of the customer will be under his/her control and likely to get reduced”, TRAI added.

The subscribers need to have in place “a channel base pack”  which includes 100 channels  priced at Rs 130 plus taxes. “Consumer has complete freedom to choose their desired 100 Standard Definition (SD) channels within the network capacity fee of maximum Rs.130 plus taxes. The desired channels could be in A-Ia-carte Free to Air channels or Pay channels or bouquet of pay channels or any combination thereof. The choice completely rests with the consumers.

TRAI is attempting giving the cable TV and the direct to home (DTH) space a bit shakeup. The new system, mandates broadcasters to publish the tariffs for each channel (also known as ala-carte) as well as for bouquets (a combination of channels for a fixed price). Subsequently, cable TV providers such as Hathway and Den, and DTH companies such as TataSky and Airtel Digital TV have published updated prices as per the guidelines, and are now allowing subscribers the complete freedom to pick from these bouquets and ala-carte channel options.

In the meanwhile the Kolkatta high court has granted a stay to TRAI’ new regulations till 18 February. However the Bombay High court has not stayed the matter. While hearing a petition related to this issue, a bench comprising Chief Justice Naresh Patil and N M Jamdar on Wednesday directed the petitioners to submit a copy of the Kolkatta High court’s judgement.  Besides, the bench also questioned, how the network capacity fee of Rs. 130 was arrived at. The bench also questioned how the network capacity fee was apportioned as Multi Service Operator (MSO)-Rs 52 and Cable operator-Rs 45.

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