Ceiling on price of channels, discounts given feature among the issues
In a bid to address stakeholders’ concerns, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a fresh consultation paper seeking views on issues related to the new tariff order (NTO 2.0).
The key issues raised pertain to ceiling on the price of channels for their inclusion in bouquets and discounts given in the formation of channel bouquets, among others.
The regulator said the implementation of NTO 2.0 provisions has led to benefits such as being able to get a higher number of channels and reduction of network capacity fees (compared to 2017 framework) for availing a similar number of channels, being passed on to the consumers.
However, TRAI noted there are “wide-scale” changes in composition of almost all the bouquets offered by broadcasters and there has been an “upward revision” in the rates of pay channels and bouquets.
“The new tariffs reflect a common trend that the prices of their most popular channels, including sports, were enhanced beyond ₹20 per month,” it said, adding that since they are priced beyond ₹12 per month, these channels end up only being offered on an a-la-carte basis and kept out of the bouquets in line with the new regulatory framework.
TRAI further said it has received representations from distribution platform operators (DPOs), associations of local cable operators (LCOs) and consumer organisations highlighting the difficulties in migrating consumers to the new tariff regime due to this rate revision.
It said a committee comprising various industry bodies was constituted to look into various issues related to the implementation of the new tariff order and that it has issued this consultation paper in order to address some of the critical issues raised by the committee.
The paper has also sought views on whether TRAI should continue to prescribe a ceiling price of a channel for inclusion in a bouquet; on the steps to be taken to ensure popular television channels remain accessible to a large segment of viewers; and whether there should be a ceiling on the MRP of pay channels.
Other issues raised include whether there should be a ceiling on the discount offered on the sum of a-la-carte prices of channels forming part of bouquets while fixing MRP and if so, what should be the appropriate methodology. The paper also delves into issues such as “should the MRP of an a-la-carte pay channel forming bouquet be capped with reference to average prices of all pay channels forming the same bouquet”.