In the DTH and broadcasting industry, there has been a long controversy going on related to the long-term channel packs which the DTH operators used to provide to their subscribers before the implementation of the new Trai tariff regime. However, the coming of the new regulatory framework has brought a clash of interest between the consumers, DTH operators and Trai. In this development, there has been a lot of back and forth, but finally courtesy of Delhi HC and its latest ruling on the matter, the issue has been sorted, and there is a resolution – that the long-term channel packs will no longer remain valid. Here is how the story unfolded from beginning to end.
Situation Before the Trai Pricing Mandate
Before the introduction of the Trai tariff regime, the sector regulator was urging the DTH operators to stop offering the long-term packs to the subscribers well in advance. However, the DTH operators did not pay much heed to the advice and continued to offer these long-term packs even in the months leading up to the introduction of the new tariff regime. When the new Trai tariff mandate came into place, Trai announced that all subscribers should be migrated to the new framework based channel packs. This implied that subscribers who were on the long-term channel packs also had to face migration.
Long-Term Packs in Question During Trai Regime Implementation
To accomplish this, Trai brought something called as best-fit packs for the subscribers. Which were chosen based on the current viewing pattern of the subscribers and the customers were migrated to these plans while being returned the leftover amount of their remaining subscription. However, the consumers did not like this move as they were being denied the benefit which they had been promised earlier. Now Trai had a responsibility to ensure the best interest of the consumers. Hence it brought in a new direction which asked the DTH service providers to let the consumers continue on the long-term channel packs same as before.
Legal Proceeding on Long-Term Plans
It was at this time that the major DTH service provider Tata Sky interjected with a legal slap in Delhi HC and noted that Trai’s latest order on the long-term packs was contradictory to its previous order. The operator also noted that since a lot of consumers had already been migrated and refunded their amount, reverting back on the decision would cause chaos. Following this legal row, firstly the long-term channel packs were kept on stay. The finally Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao said that it would place a hold on the long-term channel packs, meaning that the subscribers would have to migrate to the new Trai based channel packs.