After making several changes in the telecom sector, Trai must be now looking to implement the changes it planned for the broadcasting sector. In April this year, the new tariff regime by Trai became fully effective, but the television subscribers were not satisfied with the changes brought by Trai. The one major change which irked a lot of users is the Network Capacity Fee (NCF); Every DTH/Cable TV connection now comes with mandatory NCF charges of Rs 153 and these go upwards depending on the number of FTA channels you choose. And on top of that, the a-la-carte channels were priced on the slightly higher side as compared to the past. Trai is looking to bring variable NCF charges which will likely make the Cable TV or DTH subscriptions a bit cheaper compared to what users are paying right now.
Understanding the New Billing System Under Trai Tariff Regime
Now, in the new Trai tariff regime, one of the major points of focus is the Network Capacity Fee (NCF). To put it in clearer words, the very essence of the new Trai tariff regime revolves around the NCF charges which the subscribers are charged for the channels. It is worth noting that in the DTH or cable TV bill, which the subscribers pay, the customers pay the bill in two parts – first is the NCF charge and the second is the content charges, which the subscribers pay to the broadcasters for the TV channels. Now, the NCF charge is the fee paid to the DTH operator or the cable TV operator for carrying the channels, and distribution and this fee has been capped at Rs 130 or Rs 153 inclusive of taxes for 100 channels. This means that no matter how many channels, the subscribers get, they would have to pay Rs 153 per month at least.
Variable NCF and What it Means
Under the new consultation paper which seeks to patch up the new Trai tariff regime, the sector regulator is finding a way to make the NCF more likeable for the subscribers. To do that, Trai has proposed the bringing of variable NCF. As the name suggests, the variable NCF, when implemented, would vary from region to region. This is largely based on the fact that in a particular region, the NCF would be less or more, depending on the user interest and the data available. This is likely to make the NCF more bearable for some of the subscribers, especially if they get less number of channels on their subscription.
Other Issues Under Discussion by Trai
It is worth noting that Trai has also accepted the fact that the new Trai tariff regime has increased the monthly subscription bill for a lot of customers of DTH and Cable TV services. As such, this new consultation paper seeks to bring down the costs for the consumers by various methods. One of the other matters which Trai has hammered down on, in the new papers is the issue of rampant discounting on the channel packs and bouquets. As per Trai, the excessive discounts on these bouquets mean that the channel costs less than what the individual price of the channel is, which encourages the subscribers to opt for the packs more, rather than individual channels which is against the very motive of the new Trai tariff regime, that is to promote transparency and user choice.