The new Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) National Tariff Order has changed a lot of things. However, the change was so big that it was opposed by a lot of broadcasters and consumers as well. We continue to see the effects of the NTO and the revised version of this order, NTO 2.0, even now. Under this rule, the subscribers are first required to buy the channel “slots” from the cable operator, which is called the Network Capacity Fee, fixed at the maximum of Rs 130. At this price, the consumers get access to 100 channels, which can be either FTA or paid as a-la-carte. But, in these 100 channels, 25 were being occupied by the mandatory channels, but now this has changed.
The NCF Story and Mandatory Channels
As per this rule, when the subscribers buy 100 channel slots from the cable operator, they are eligible to add fee FTA channels in those, hence keeping their monthly payment constant at Rs 153 (included taxes), or if they wish to pay more and watch certain channels, they can add paid channels from certain broadcasters as well. Now the presence of 25 mandatory channels means that the subscribers only get 75 slots to fill in their choices for channels that they want to watch. If their choices exceeded this number, then they would have to pay more NCF to increase their channel capacity to 200.
Split of Rajya Sabha TV the Cause
Now, with the split of Rajya Sabha TV and Lok Sabha TV, which were one channel a few months back, this mandatory channel number has been increased to 26. Subscribers of all DTH companies like D2h, Tata Sky, and others are seeing this change. This means that subscribers now have one less slot to put in their channel of choice. The total number of independently selectable channels in the Rs 130 NCF cost has come down further to 74. It’s worth noting that the government has floated tender for a new channel called DD International, which if goes live and is added to the mandatory list, then the open channel slots in the same NCF price will go down to 73.