The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) introduced the national tariff order to bring about a much-needed change in the broadcasting and DTH industry of India. This tariff order by the sector regulator brought transparency and significant pricing changes in the sector. It also emphasised rules on quality of service (QoS) and consumer protection regulations as well. To recall, the tariff mandate was first introduced back in 2017, but it went into implementation on December 29, 2018. After the introduction of the new regime, the DTH and cable TV subscribers had to migrate to the new Trai regime based channel packs or individual channels. This was a long and tedious process of over three months, where the consumers constantly switched to the new choices. In its latest mandate, Trai has put out some well-defined guidelines for channel selection.
Trai Finding Loopholes in Channel Selection Process
Trai’s new tariff order gave the subscribers the freedom of choosing the channels they want to watch and to only pay for them. This was a big breakthrough for the industry since now the consumers were in full control of what they were going to pay for. However, the struggle was the process of selection of channels, which was not streamlined from the DTH providers’ side. The companies were not providing the proper platform and method to the subscribers to select channels for their subscription plan.
Trai in its notification said, “To ensure proper implementation of the new framework, TRAI has made number of efforts such as series of meetings with DPOs, publicity in electronic and news media, interactions with customer groups etc. Despite of making all efforts, time and again, it is being brought to notice of the Authority that consumers are not able to make real choice of TV channels.”
Later, Trai received many complaints against DPOs and some DTH providers as well that were not providing the appropriate means to select channels for the subscribers. Also, the subscribers complained that these DPOs were not responding through their call centres as well.
Trai Thinking of Third Party Developed App for Channel Selection
As a solution to this issue, Trai said, “In order to address above issue, The Authority, in the larger public interest, felt need to have Channel Selection System developed by third party to facilitate easy channel selection by consumers. Since third party APP will be accessible by every customer of Broadcasting & Cables Services sector, therefore, it will facilitate the easy choice to consumers. To facilitate functioning of third-party Apps, TRAI created Channel Selection System API Specifications document which prescribed common APIs with all Distribution Platform Operators (DPO).”
Now with this draft regulation, Trai will be seeking the views of stakeholders on the issue of developing an app for easy channel selection. Third parties would develop this app, and it would involve the exchange of information between the DPOs and the consumers via APIs. Trai also noted that the draft regulation which has been opened today should be open for comments of the stakeholders up to August 22, 2019.