There have been concerns building up in the broadcasting industry about the new consultation paper that Trai has floated. The new consultation paper from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is aimed at resolving the issues that currently remain in the new tariff regime. However, according to a new ET Telecom report based on an interview with Trai chairman, RS Sharma, the official has clarified a lot of misconceptions which might be brewing about the new consultation paper from Trai. Sharma has said in his answers that the regulator does not plan to revise the national tariff order (NTO), but only seeks to bring consumer-friendly amendments to empower consumer choice.
Trai Bullish on Empowering Consumer Choice
The first point that Sharma came up with highlighted that after a three-year-long battle, Trai has come up with a framework to regulate the broadcasting and DTH industry in India and this framework is a completely different one from the previous one. He said that with this consultation paper, Trai is not trying to change any part of the new regulatory regime, and he also added that anybody implying the same is false. Instead, he said that there are some issues related to consumers that have surfaced regarding the new tariff regime and Trai is only trying to patch them up so as to fine-tune the regulatory framework.
The Trai chairman reiterated again and again that the issuing of consultation paper does not imply that there is going to be a change in the new Trai tariff regime. But, the consultation paper is a mere consideration that there could be areas which require a fine-tuning. The official also emphasised the fact that the entire regulatory framework is based on the consumers, and it is very consumer-centric. Therefore, the new steps to fine-tune the framework, if they happen, are going to be supportive of this fact only. Hence, the consultation paper that has been issued is only to empower consumer choice.
Trai Not Looking to Disallow Bundling of TV Channels in Bouquets
Trai also clarified its stance on bundling of channels and said that it is not adamant on disallowing bundling of channels and is not discouraging bouquets. But, its aim is to keep the best interest of consumers in mind. Sharma also added that the consultation paper is not a final decision, and it merely articulates the issues that have come up and asks the stakeholders whether or not the change is required.
Sharma again highlighted that for bouquets, earlier upper limits were fixed, and the price cap was a decisive factor. Now the price cap has been removed, and the Rs 19 cap is only the condition of channel bouquets. He again added saying that if anything from the consultation paper goes through, then it will only be a tweaking and there will be no “changing” of the NTO.