Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV and Others Tell Trai to Brush Off Discount Cap on Channel Bouquets

Trai had introduced a new consultation paper on ‘Tariff related for broadcasting and cable services’ to which the DTH operators have responded with their comments

Highlights
  • Airtel Digital TV has asked for a cap on the number of changes allowed to channel pack composition
  • DTH operators are united against discount cap on channel bouquets

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been floating new consultation paper for both the DTH and the telecom industry in the past few weeks. A few days back, the sector regulator had introduced a new consultation paper on ‘Tariff related for broadcasting and cable services’. The paper was open for comments by the industry stakeholders and experts, and now the comments have come pouring in on the new consultation paper from the DTH operators. The different DTH operators have had different views on the tariff related matters of the DTH and cable TV service industry. Here is what the DTH operators commented over the new Trai consultation paper.

Comments by Dish TV on New Consultation Paper

As per Dish TV, the acceptance towards a-la-carte channels has not been substantial even after 8 months of implementation of the new Trai tariff regime. The DTH operator also added that there is little connection between the prices of the bouquets and the constituent channels because of the non-implementation of the discount cap which Trai has discussed to be set at 15%. As per Dish TV, to stop the broadcasters from excessively pushing the channel bouquets, there should be a linkage between the channel packs pricing and the individual channels. If done, this would propel the broadcasters to bring on reasonable pricing for the channel bouquets as they are competitively priced and further, it would also enable the customers to choose individual channels. This news was first reported by Indian Television.

Trai Asked to Consider Rs 130 NCF Cap

There was also the issue of NCF cap of Rs 130 which has been set by the sector regulator. As per the DTH operators, with many expenses like entry fee, 10% annual license fee, annual NOCC charges, annual WPC charges, and annual satellite charges, the Rs 130 NCF is not enough for these operators. The comments also highlighted that Trai should also look at inflation based hike since it has been more than two and a half year since this NCF price was mandated by the regulator. Trai had admitted itself that it would take a look again at the NCF pricing in a span of two years. Trai also said that the full potential of the new tariff regime would not be recognised unless the OTT apps are brought under the jurisdiction of Trai regulations.

Tata Sky, Sun Direct and Others Unite on Discount Cap Issue

DTH operators including Tata Sky, Sun Direct and others were united on the front when saying that Trai cannot introduce 15% bouquet discount cap as it was declared by Madras High Court. Further, these operators asserted that Supreme Court had validated the order of Madras HC. Tata Sky also added that the channel bouquets are actually a better service for the subscribers as it avails multiple channels from various broadcasters under a single banner which is convenient for the Indian households. The DTH operator also said that the consumers would be able to enjoy better prices if the broadcasters are mutually allowed to negotiate prices for the content.

Airtel Digital TV Speaks About Changes in Channel Bouquets

Airtel Digital TV also stated that there should be no change in current regulations and that is also true for the discount cap on channel bouquets. The operator said, “Any changes at this stage will be equivalent to migration, and this may not be the ideal time to cause any interference as it will also lead to unnecessary disturbances and customer dissatisfaction.” It also added that, “While we do not favour any changes immediately, we do suggest that at a later stage, the Authority can consider rationalisation of the number of bouquets by introducing a limit on the number of bouquets as well as limit the number of times changes can be made in the bouquet/s.” Airtel Digital TV and Tata Sky both agreed that the changes in the composition of the channel bouquets should be allowed only once in a month.

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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