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TRAI releases telecommunications tariff order for broadcasters and digital systems

The Authority has invited comments from stakeholders by October 24, 2016

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | October 12, 2016

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the telecommunications tariff order for broadcasting and cable services and digital addressable systems (DAS). The order will come into force with effect from April 1, 2017 and is applicable to television broadcasting and cable services provided to subscribers, through addressable system, throughout India.

Key highlights of the draft tariff order are:

  1. Every broadcaster should declare the nature of each channel as ‘free to air’ or ‘pay’ for different geographical areas.
  2. Broadcaster can offer pay channels in the form of bouquet(s) and on a-la-carte basis. Price declaration should be as mentioned by the authority.
  3. Every broadcaster shall declare a genre for each of its channels under the 11 specified genres by the authority.
  4. SD and HD MRPs are defined. The MRP for a HD format shall not be more than three times of the MRP of corresponding SD format.
  5. Distributors are required to charge subscribers as per guidelines mentioned in the draft.
  6. The Authority envisions that the new regulatory framework must ensure transparency, non-discrimination, non-exclusivity for all stakeholders in value chain; affordable TV services for customers; adequate choice to consumers and balance the commercial interests of broadcasters and distributors of television channels to enable the distributors of television channels to recover their network cost and the broadcasters to recover their content cost.
  7. Broadcasters are free to notify any channel as premium channel in their RIO and shall have no price cap on maximum retail price notified by broadcasters for customers.
  8. Majority of the broadcasters agree that electronic program guide (EPG) should include details of the programme and rates of the channels that are not subscribed by the customer.
  9. In the consultation paper comments of stakeholders were sought on the issue of definition and need for regulation of variant or cloned channels.
  10. Majority broadcasters are not in favour of regulating variant or cloned channels. They have opined that variant or cloned channels do not hamper consumer interests as they have been introduced to cater different mass/class of population and to increase the reach of content of broadcasters.
  11. In the consultation paper, stakeholders were asked to suggest whether the option of pay per-program viewing (PPV) be made available to the subscribers and if so, whether the tariff of such viewing be regulated.
  12. Most of the stakeholders, including broadcasters and distributors of television channels, are not in favour of pay-per-viewing option.
  13. Most broadcasters aver that the issue of identifying SMP’s is in the purview of Competition Commission India (CCI) and there is no need for TRAI to do so.
  14. The Authority has noted that the monopolistic behaviour of significant market power is well demonstrated both by broadcasters as well as distributors of television channels. However, the Authority is prescribing a new framework for television broadcasting sector and therefore does not want to identify and regulate the significant market power at present.

Written comments on the draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2016 are invited from the stakeholders by October 24, 2016. The comments may be sent, preferably in electronic form, on the e-mail: pradvbcs@trai.gov.in or vk.agarwal@trai.gov.in. For any clarification/ information, S.K. Gupta, Pr. Advisor (B&CS), may be contacted at Tel. No.: +91-11-23220018, Fax: +91-11-23220442. Comments will be posted on TRAI’s website www.trai.gov.in.

A detailed draft can be viewed here:

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