Viewers can select TV channels till Jan 31 under new rules

Television viewers have to select the channels of their choice by January 31. The telecom regulator – Trai – has given the time frame under the new framework for broadcasting and cable services.

“We had a meeting of broadcasters, DTH operators, and MSOs (multi-system operators) today (Thursday). Everyone confirmed their readiness to implement new regulations. However, they requested that some more time may be given to seek options from subscribers for smooth and interruption free migrations,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Secretary S K Gupta told PTI.

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Accordingly, distribution platform operators (DPOs) have been permitted to seek options from consumers till January 31 and customers will be migrated as per their choice from February 1, he added.

Under the new framework, consumers will select and pay only for those channels that they wish to view. Moreover, TV broadcasters will have to disclose the maximum retail price (MRP) of each channel and that of bouquets.

Till now broadcasters and DPOs such as cable and DTH players offer a lumpsum number of channels for a fee, some of which they may not be watching. Now they will have to offer all the channels on a-la-carte basis at their maximum-retail-price (MRP).

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While broadcasters worry that it will result in a drop of long-tail, or unpopular channels’ subscription, the DPOs are worried that their share of revenue will come down.

Under the new regime, a base price has been set at Rs 130 plus 18% GST for 100 channels which will include 24 mandatory channels from Prasar Bharati.

A customer can select free-to-air or pay channels after that and pay accordingly. If a subscriber opts for more than 100 channels, she will have to pay an additional capacity fee of Rs 20 per 25 channels.

The telecom regulator had earlier asserted that the implementation of the new framework would lead to lower prices for TV viewers and slammed the ‘misinformation campaign’ being carried out by some to fuel ‘hyperbolic fear’ among consumers.

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Trai Chairman R S Sharma had, earlier this month, said the regulator was working to ensure a smooth transition to the new framework without causing any disruption for consumers.

The Supreme Court had recently dismissed a plea challenging the Trai’s March 2017 regulations and tariff order, relating to fixation of charges for free and pay channels.

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