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Broadcasting costs bite: Channel bouquet prices soar amidst rising content expenses

Indian television viewers are set to see a rise in their monthly bills as broadcasters across the board have hiked channel bouquet prices, citing escalating content costs.

Network18 and Viacom18’s distribution arm IndiaCast have implemented a 20-25% price increase, fueled by their recent acquisition of major sports properties. Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Sony Pictures Networks India have followed suit, with price hikes ranging from 9-10% and 10-11%, respectively. Disney Star, the biggest player in the market, is yet to announce its new pricing plan.

With the 2024 elections looming, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is closely monitoring the situation to avoid public backlash. Sources indicate they will scrutinize broadcaster bouquets for compliance with the New Tariff Order (NTO) 3.0. This marks the second price hike since NTO 3.0’s implementation in November 2022. Channel prices were frozen for nearly three years prior to February 2023 due to disputes over NTO 2.0 implementation. The February hike followed a standoff between broadcasters and cable TV operators that led to temporary signal blackouts.

Despite offering both a la carte and bundled options, most consumers opt for bouquets for cost efficiency. Industry experts attribute Viacom18’s aggressive price hike to their hefty investment in sports rights, including IPL digital, BCCI media, Cricket South Africa, and the upcoming Olympics. Lokmat Times

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