There have been a lot of ups and downs in the DTH industry since the start of this year, most of these ups and downs have been because of the regulatory changes brought forth by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). After the implementation of the new Trai tariff regime, the DTH operators had to implement the new rules, and the broadcasters also followed suit with this. The pricing of the DTH and cable TV connections was one major thing that changed drastically after the implementation of the new Trai tariff regime. However, although Trai had best intentions while bringing these changes, they did not go well with the subscribers, and since then Trai has accepted some of the drawbacks of the new Trai tariff regime and has been working towards patching them up. To do this, Trai has floated a consultation paper in the industry which focuses to invite comments from the industry stakeholders and the experts about the new tariff regime can be fixed. Some of the major issues that have been discussed in this consultation paper include variable NCF, the NCF pricing, capping of discounts on channel bouquets, multi-TV pricing and more.
Understanding the New Billing System Under Trai Tariff Regime
Now, in the new Trai tariff regime, one of the major points of focus is the Network Capacity Fee (NCF). To put it in clearer words, the very essence of the new Trai tariff regime revolves around the NCF charges which the subscribers are charged for the channels. It is worth noting that in the DTH or cable TV bill, which the subscribers pay, the customers pay the bill in two parts – first is the NCF charge and the second is the content charges, which the subscribers pay to the broadcasters for the TV channels. Now, the NCF charge is the fee paid to the DTH operator or the cable TV operator for carrying the channels, and distribution and this fee has been capped at Rs 130 or Rs 153 inclusive of taxes for 100 channels. This means that no matter how many channels, the subscribers get, they would have to pay Rs 153 per month at least.
Variable NCF and What it Means
Under the new consultation paper which seeks to patch up the new Trai tariff regime, the sector regulator is finding a way to make the NCF more likeable for the subscribers. To do that, Trai has proposed the bringing of variable NCF. As the name suggests, the variable NCF, when implemented, would vary from region to region. This is largely based on the fact that in a particular region, the NCF would be less or more, depending on the user interest and the data available. This is likely to make the NCF more bearable for some of the subscribers, especially if they get less number of channels on their subscription.
Other Issues Under Discussion by Trai
It is worth noting that Trai has also accepted the fact that the new Trai tariff regime has increased the monthly subscription bill for a lot of customers of DTH and cable TV services. As such, this new consultation paper seeks to bring down the costs for the consumers by various methods. One of the other matters which Trai has hammered down on, in the new papers is the issue of rampant discounting on the channel packs and bouquets. As per Trai, the excessive discounts on these bouquets mean that the channel costs less than what the individual price of the channel is, which encourages the subscribers to opt for the packs more, rather than individual channels which is against the very motive of the new Trai tariff regime, that is to promote transparency and user choice.―Telecom Talk