The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) made some reeling change on the first day of the year. As the new year knocked its way into the people’s lives, so did a new change for the DTH industry as well. Under this new notification which Trai released on January 1, the telecom regulator announced a plethora of changes which will change how the industry is functioning starting March 1. The DTH operators have been given until the end of January to comply by these new rules and make the pricing changes which will fix some of the issues which the consumers have been facing in the DTH industry. The wake-up call for Trai came months later after the rollout of the Trai tariff regime last year after millions of subscribers complained that their monthly TV rental for DTH and cable TV services went soaring high. It was then that the telecom regulator decided to float a new consultation paper and hold an Open House discussion about what changes should be brought to the new Trai tariff regime. However, there seems to be a little catch about one of these changes.
The Story of Network Capacity Charge (NCF)
Trai in its mandate has said that now there is a massive change to how the Network Capacity Fees (NCF) is handled. It is worth noting that the NCF is the charge which is paid by the subscribers to the DTH operators for carrying the channels and makes up for one part of the total two parts of the DTH or cable TV bill which the subscribers pay every month. Until now, the NCF had been set at Rs 130 per month for 100 SD channels. On top of this, if the subscribers had to opt for additional channels, then they would have to spend Rs 20 for every additional 25 SD channels. Out of the initial 100 channels, 25 of them were occupied by the mandatory DD channels. As such, the subscribers were paying Rs 130 plus taxes for 75 channels. For the subscribers who had close to 200 channels, they had to pay around Rs 170 plus taxes.
With the new change, the subscribers would get 200 channels for Rs 130 plus taxes now and also the mandatory channels will not be counted in the NCF which the people will be paying. But, this brings us to another question that, back during the rollout of the Trai tariff regime, the regulator had urged to the public to opt for the channels which they only wanted to watch, and as a result, a lot of the subscribers out there have added minimal number of channels to their cart and subscribed to them. In such a case, the introduction of the NCF channel count extension makes little sense.
How It Affects the Consumers?
The move will only be beneficial for the people who have more than 100 channels subscribed on their account. Also, it would make very little difference close to Rs 20, for the people who have a little more than 100 channels, and less than 125 channels. The maximum benefit would be for the people who have got close to 200 channels because these people would be getting the slots for just double the number of channels. Even in that case, the broadcasters have decided to hike the prices of some of their channels which means that the NCF relief could come to mean very little if the subscribers opt for these channels and start paying for them since they have to pay the content cost for these channels anyway.