Price Revision To Bring In Transparency, Curb Distortion Due To Discounting: TRAI

The telecom and broadcast regulator defended its latest tariff order governing broadcasters and subscription platforms, saying that it will usher in transparency.

“The framework’s primary focus is empowerment of consumers,” Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, told reporters in Delhi today. He said the regulator observed the first framework for over a year and made changes once it detected misuse of “available flexibility by a group of service providers”.

“Broadcasters have been increasing their prices by a good margin, and the decision only curbed the distortion due to discounting of bouquet plans,” Sharma said, adding that the intended benefits for consumers couldn’t be achieved.

Meanwhile, Indian broadcasters such as Sony and Disney have moved the Bombay High Court challenging the TRAI’s order. The regulator has, however, said that it’s open for discussion with the stakeholders. “We’re open for discussions and anyone has the freedom to approach the court.”

The telecom regulator’s order, which would come into force on March 1, reduced the ceiling price of pay channels for inclusion in bouquets from Rs 19 to Rs 12. While broadcasters are still free to price the channel, if they seek to include them in a bouquet, the channel’s à la carte price will be capped at Rs 12 plus taxes. It also increased the number of free-to-air standard definition channels to be provided at a monthly cost of Rs 130 to 200 from 100.

While forming the bouquet, broadcasters must ensure that the sum of the à la carte rates of pay channels in it shall not exceed one and a half times the rate of the bouquet of which such pay channels are a part of, according to the order. The à la carte price of a channel can’t exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet.―Bloomberg Quint

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