NEW DELHI: The new amended new tariff order is subscriber friendly and addresses the broadcasters’ concerns, and does not seek to fix channel price, a top regulatory official on Monday told reporters.
“The new framework is consumer-friendly and addresses the issues of stakeholders. We have provided the freedom to broadcasters and they are free to price. We have only reduced the bouquet cap to Rs 12,” Trai chairman Ram Sewak Sharma told reporters.
The new regime was unveiled in December 2018. Trai has issued amendments on January 1, this year after reviewing the framework.
Broadcasters, however, allege that by introducing amendments in the earlier tariff order, the regulator has restricted their ability to earn revenues.
“The primary focus of the new framework is empowerment to consumers,” he said.
Following a large number of representations from consumers and consumer groups, the watchdog had decided to review the NTO that according to the officials, was partially distorted by inflating the price of some channels.
“The amendments were only meant to empower consumers without changing the fundamentals,” the regulator stressed.
The broadcasting watchdog has said that the idea behind the new guidelines was to bring transparency and non-discrimination as well as reducing the friction between stakeholders.
But some broadcasters particularly the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) opposed the regulator’s move, and Sony Pictures Networks Limited and Walt Disney that owns Star India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises have moved the Bombay High Court on Monday.
“We watched for about a year and addressed issues impacting consumers. Both SD and HD channels were priced higher, and we reduced the price to Rs 12. We have allowed 200 channels at Rs 130 while keeping mandatory Prasar Bharti channels out,” Sharma said.
In the case of a multi-TV home, the regulator has kept network fees at 40% of the primary connection since a common infrastructure is being used for multiple TV sets. In addition, Trai has also said that the number of bouquets should be limited.
“We have created a network capacity fee (NCF), and a harmonious balance between stakeholders offers growth potential,” Sharma said and added that some broadcasters distorted the regime and some issues were left out earlier.
“The consultation process is the regulator’s DNA and initiates an extensive process to take comments and counter comments from stakeholders,” he said and added that it was for the first time that the broadcasters were given freedom.
In the new regime, even smaller broadcasters, according to him, would be able to compete fairly and take benefit from reduced network fees.
The watchdog is also working on an open API that would allow consumers to select packs online. It is running a pilot with cable TV provider Hathway and according to officials would unveil the new app by next month.
15th January is the last date for broadcasters to declare the price of channels and bouquets. The amended framework will come into effect from April 1, 2020.