The Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) on Wednesday announced amendments to the regulatory framework for cable and broadcasting services. These amendments are aimed at making more channels accessible to cable TV users at much lower subscription rates.
The new rules are part of the changes the regulator has made to its 2017 tariff order for broadcasting and cable TV services. They will be effective from March 1.
The regulatory body has fixed Rs 160 as the minimum monthly subscription price for consumers to access all free-to-air channels. For users with multiple TVs and more than one TV connection with different name of one person, they will be charged a maximum of 40% of declared Network Capacity Fee (for the secondary and TV connections).
The regulator has also revised the maximum NCF charges to Rs 130 for 200 channels. The price is exclusive of taxes. This package will not include the channels declared mandatory by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. TRAI has also allowed Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) to give discounts on long-term subscriptions which have six months validity or more.
According to TRAI, the sum of the a-la-carte rates of the pay channels forming part of a bouquet in no case shall exceed one and a half times the rate of the bouquet of which these pay channels are a part of.
The a-la-carte rates of each pay channel (MRP), forming part of a bouquet, shall in no case exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is a part, it said.
The telecom regulator said broadcasters can only include only those channels which have an MRP of Rs 12 or less in the bouquet. The regulator said it has also considered the concern of broadcasters regarding huge carriage fee being charged by DPOs.
A cap of Rs 4 lakh per month has been prescribed on carriage fee payable by a broadcaster to a DPO in a month for carrying a channel in the country, the TRAI said.
The Authority has also considered giving more flexibility to DPOs to place the TV channels on Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and mandated that channel of a language in a genre will be kept together while placing channels on EPG. Such EPG lay out is to be mandatorily reported to the TRAI and no change in this can be done without prior approval of the Authority, the statement said.