TRAI has made amendments to the new regulatory framework for cable and broadcasting services that went into effect last year. After challenges from service providers and customers alike, TRAI has made some changes to address issues such as permissible discount limit, carriage fee, NCF charges, and more. Following the tweaks to the existing framework, the regulatory body has today issued the amended Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection Regulations, Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection Regulations, and Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Tariff Order Amendment that will be implemented starting the ongoing month.
Regarding the discounts offered by broadcasters for bouquet and a-la-carte channels, TRAI has issued the following two norms:
1) The total value of paid a-la-carte channels in a bouquet should not be more than 1.5 times the price of a bouquet in which such channels are included.
2) The a-la-carte price of each paid channel in a bouquet should not be more than 3 times the average price of a paid channel in any bouquet that offers similar channels
TRAI has mandated that only channels priced above Rs. 12 will be permitted in a bouquet offered by broadcasters. The regulatory body has also reduced the maximum NCF charge to Rs. 130 (excluding taxes) for 200 channels. Moreover, no DPO will charge more than Rs. 160 per month for providing access to channels on their platform.
There is also some respite for consumers with multiple TV connections as well. TRAI’s amended regulations state that in homes with more than one TV connection, a maximum 40 percent of the declared NCF will be charged for the additional TV connections. Moreover, the DPOs have now been authorised to offer discounts on long term subscriptions (6 months or more).
The regulatory body also makes it mandatory that MSOs, HITS operators, IPTV service providers will not have the target market bigger than state or union territory. Moreover, broadcasters will only have to pay a maximum carriage fee of Rs. 4,00,000 per month to a DPO for carrying their channel.
As for the implementations of TRAI’s amended regulations, broadcasters have to publish the revised pricing of a-la-carte channels and bundles on their website before January 15. DPOs, on the other hand, will have to publish the tweaked pricing by January 30. As for consumers, they will start receiving the benefit of the amended cable and broadcasting services rules starting March 1 when they go into effect.