The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a new consultation paper on Tariff related issues for Broadcasting and Cable Services. To recall, several TV viewers in the country had complained regarding the new tariff regime introduced by Trai earlier this year. After several backlashes from the viewers, Trai admitted that it would bring changes to the new tariff regime, and on the same lines, it has now issued a consultation paper discussing what changes we might see in the tariff regime. Seeking stakeholders’ views, Trai is discussing various issues like variable NCF, discount on long-term channel packs, discount given to the subscribers in the form of bouquets and more. The consultation paper also says that the stakeholders also discussed NCF for Multi TV connections.
Trai Blames Broadcasters for Offering Massive Discounts on Bouquet Packs
In the consultation paper, Trai shared some harsh views on how broadcasters are misusing the new tariff regime. According to Trai, “it was expected of the broadcasters take a holistic view of the matter and give due consideration to the observations of while pricing their bouquets and channels.”
During all these days of tariff regime implementation, Trai says it observed that broadcasters are offering bouquets at a discount of up to 70% of the sum of a-la-carte rates of pay channels constituting those bouquets. In Trai’s view, this move from broadcasters is not a good one as they’re making prices of a-la-carte channels illusory thereby impacting the a-la-carte choice of channels by consumers and giving huge discounts on bouquets to push even those channels which are not the choice of subscribers. The main motto of Trai’s new tariff regime is to give viewers the choice of choosing their own channels, but broadcasters are changing that by providing discounts on bouquets.
Furthermore, Trai observed that too many bouquets are formed by the broadcasters/distributors and many of them contain the same set of channels, with very few changes. This is something confusing a lot of consumers out there.
Trai Discusses Variable NCF, Discount of Long-Term Channel Packs as Well
In the detailed consultation paper, Trai also confirmed that it had extensive interactions with the stakeholders, including consumers and consumer organisations. During the interactions, Trai discussed various things like variable NCF for different regions, DD channels as part of one hundred channels and discounts on long-term channel packs. Trai is looking for shareholders’ views on these aspects.
One of the primary concern for consumers with the new tariff regime is the NCF charges of Rs 153. Even if a user subscribers to one a-la-carte channel, they’re forced to pay Rs 153 NCF charges which is something not going well with a lot of users out there. Nevertheless, Trai is looking into the issue. While we may not see the NCF charges coming down from Rs 153, what we can expect is different NCF charges based on regions. It would be great if Trai sets NCF charges based on the pay channels chosen by the consumers.
Trai is seeking shareholders’ views on the consultation paper right now, post which the changes will come into effect.