If we know one thing for sure about the new National Tariff Order (NTO) for the broadcasting and cable sector, it is that the new regulations have had a mixed impact on the industry. While the new tariff regime enforced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) was largely meant to bring transparency and pricing changes for the subscribers, it has also driven a lot of them out of the industry as well. TV subscribers in millions have left their connections after the introduction of the new tariff regime in India. The main reason this has happened is that the monthly subscription costs of DTH and cable connections has gone up for most customers.
Monthly Subscription Bills of TV Viewers Increase
It is clear to the TV viewers that after the introduction of the new regulations which were supposed to bring transparency and other positive changes to the industry, another undesired effect has been the rise in monthly subscription costs which has brought Trai into the stand. The sector regulator had remarked in the initial days, that the subscription costs for most subscribers would come down eventually, but that has not been the case. As per the sources present in the broadcasting sector, the regulator did not go down to the bottom of the issue as to why these subscription costs went up. According to these people, the mandatory NCF of Rs 130 plus GST, which the customers are paying along with the Rs 20 for additional channels which subscribers are paying is the main cause for increased monthly cable bills.
According to a report by Deccan Chronicles, the subscribers now believe that after the introduction of the new tariff regime the subscribers are not only being charged more than what they were previously paying but also they are now getting lesser channels. Earlier, the subscribers used to get around 150 channels from their cable or DTH connection for around Rs 100, but now the subscribers are likely to get 100 FTA channels in Rs 150.
New Tariff Regime Also Undermining Investments in Broadcasting Sector
As per KPMG’s latest report on the broadcasting sector, the industry has already lost around 12 to 15 million subscribers. As per an international expert on the Indian broadcasting sector, Trai should not treat the creative sector as a “service”. According to this expert, Trai is making the mistake of considering the broadcasting sector as a “Service” while it really is a “creative” avenue.
The expert also pointed out that Trai is keeping broadcasters at a disadvantaged position with frequent and tough regulatory interventions. This has also led to the undermining of the investments being made in the broadcasting sector. He also pointed out that while the regulator “regulates” the broadcasting services like that of DTH, the broadcasters are essentially under the control of the regulator. This has raised some serious questions about the intent and objective of a so-called independent regulator.