Since the start of 2019, we have seen a lot of changes in the Indian broadcasting industry, thanks to the new tariff implementation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The sector regulator asked DTH service providers to continue providing long duration packs which consumers liked a lot in the past tariff regime. But the operators are in no state to listen to Trai, except for a few like Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct. And it makes complete sense for them to not introduce long-term packs as the new tariff pricing is very different compared to the previous one. Additionally, DTH providers state that consumers will get back their existing long duration pack refund into their respective DTH account which can be used to pay the monthly bills going forward.
Subscribers Can Continue with Long Term Plans: Trai
Trai in its statement released earlier this month said, “The Authority further reiterates that subscribers who have taken long term packs will continue to avail the services for the contracted period. However, they have the freedom to choose the channels of their choice under the new regulatory framework and in case if they exercise this option, money for the remaining period shall be adjusted for their future use.”
However, this move from the sector regulator will have a bad impact on local Cable TV and DTH service providers.
Effect on DTH Operators
It is worth noting that back when Trai was discussing the implications of the new tariff regime in the last quarter of 2018, it had asked the operators to discontinue the long term plans, but not going by the orders, some operators continued to sell the long term plans as late as in December 2018. The result was that now selected subscribers have made the payment in advance for these long term DTH plans. Trai says, if that is the case, then the customer will be given the services of the long-term plan without any change till their subscription period is over. This step is apparently to be seen as a downside for DTH operators since the price which the operators are paying to the channel owners have gone up significantly since February 1. However, the same subscription fee being charged from the long-term subscribers mean that DTH operators will have to pay the broadcasters from their own pockets thus thinning out their margin by a large extent.
Consumers Disappointed After DTH Companies Shack Long Term Plans
Notably, to find a way around this some DTH providers are converting their long term subscribers into the subscribers of new Trai based monthly packs with the new pricing. Operators like Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV and D2h had announced that after these consumers have made choices about their channels, the monthly amount will be deducted from the remaining amount in their long term subscription. The operators had even started crediting the amount to the respective accounts of the DTH subscribers. The consumers, as you would expect, were venting out their anger regarding the actions of the DTH companies. Some also resorted to legal pathways. However, the new direction by Trai ensures that the DTH companies will provide their services unhindered for the rest of the remaining term of a long-term plan subscriber.