The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has said that the transition to the new tariff regime is going smoothly. However, the opinion of the public on this issue seems to be contrasting. Arvind Kumar, advisor on broadcasting for Trai has said that the regulator has not received many complaints regarding the new tariff regime. Kumar said to ET Telecom, “MSOs (multi-system operators) have told us that 100% of their subscribers have been migrated to either the best-fit plans (BFPs) or the selected plans. DTH (direct-to-home) players have achieved about 60%, but Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV are now migrating almost five lakh consumers each, daily.”
Subscribers Disappointed With New Trai Regime
There have been numerous incidents across the country where the consumers are facing trouble after the migration to the new tariff regime. Some of the subscribers have not been getting the channel of their choices, while some are completely unaware as to how they should go about the migration process. While others who have migrated, are complaining of the increased monthly DTH bill. Amidst all this, the DTH providers and cable operators have been of little help to the subscribers.
When Trai set out to implement the new tariff regime, it had expected a transparent pricing regime wherein consumers would only pay for the channels which they wanted, and although the regulator just had good intentions, the way this policy has been executed is a whole new story. A TV broadcaster also agreed as it said, “While there could be debates over the results, the inconvenience it is causing to the general public is humongous.”
Pricing Advantage Not Convincing Enough for Subscribers
Some subscribers are also of the view that there has been no significant price advantage, in fact, the opposite has happened. They said that while the new implementation is good for an individual, it does not keep in mind that a family of four will all watch different channels, a subscriber said. To make the process more woeful, some MSOs are pushing their packs to the subscribers while others have not even distributed the forms that consumers need to fill out for channel selection.
In the latest update, the deadline for the implementation of the new tariff regime was extended to March 31, after the operators were unable to migrate all the subscribers before the previous February 1 deadline. Trai had also directed to transition the subscribers to “Best Fit Plans” which would closely resemble the subscriber’s current channel selection. However, this move has also failed to come in to effect with efficiency. On top of this, there have also been complaints about the tedious process that one has to follow to make his or her channel selections.
Little Effect to Tech-Savvy Consumers
With all this happening in the industry, the least affected consumers have been the tech-savvy audience who are using their big screens at home to stream video on demand content through sites like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and more. The sufferers of the new Trai regime have mainly been housewives, senior citizens and people of a similar demographic whose primary source of entertainment was television. Now, these consumers are going through the woeful migration process, and they will also probably be paying more than what they were previously paying.