TV Viewing To Become Less Expensive

Your cable TV bills may come down soon as the country’s telecom and broadcasting regulator TRAI is considering issuing a consultation paper aimed at reducing monthly cable and DTH bills of consumers, the Economic Times reported citing official sources. Trai’s new pricing regime, which came into force in February with an objective of reducing monthly TV bills, has not worked as planned, the official said.

“A consultation paper is in the works on reducing the broadcasting tariffs,” an unnamed Trai official told ET. “We will have to see what kind of mechanism can be adopted to do so,” he added, without giving specific details on possible ways in which the tariffs could be cut.

Historically, while broadcasters like Star India have maintained that TRAI does not have the jurisdiction to look into tariffs, the official said that the regulator always had the right but chose to maintain forbearance and let market forces decide the tariffs, a formula it also used for the telecom sector.

Trai’s move will come after the regulator changed the tariff regime with the aim of making pricing of TV channels transparent which should also have reduced the cost of TV viewing for consumers.

But the new regime has in fact led to several complaints that rates have actually gone up, with all-round confusion on implementation as well.

The TRAI official conceded that regulator’s move did not play out the way the authority had earlier expected. “The aim was to make TV channel pricing more transparent and to give control of channels to the consumers while making it more affordable, but it did not pan out that way,” the official mentioned above said.

Last December, TRAI mandated that customers must pay for only those channels that they choose to see, leading to all channels getting priced individually. The rules came into effect from February 1, this year.

Now, channels cannot be priced more than Rs 19, if part of a bouquet of channels. There is no pricing cap on channels which are not part of any bouquet and are designated premium channels. Also, there is no cap on the amount of discount a broadcaster can offer on the sum of the MRPs of all the channels in the pack.

But while the move lowered tariffs for some consumers — for instance restaurants that show only one channel like a sports channel — for many others, monthly tariffs went up. A Crisil report has said that the new tariff regime would increase bill amounts of most cable TV and DTH subscribers, several examples of which also surfaced in the following months along with complaints.―Times Now

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