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90 mn of 170 mn homes have moved to new tariff, 65 mn are on cable TV: TRAI

Urvi Malvania/Mumbai 11 Feb 19 | 03:40 PM

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said that 90 million of the 1.7 billion TV homes have exercised their channel preferences to on-board the new tariff regime.

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"The speed (of on-boarding) has increased as per our data and we expect the rest of the people to also register their choice of channels soon," Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman R S Sharma told PTI.

The Indian TV industry shifted to the new tariff regime from February 1. The new system puts the choice of channel subscription in the hands of the consumer, and brings transparency in channel pricing. The sunset date for the old tariff system was December 29, 2018, though distribution platform operators were given till February 1 to migrate their customers to the new tariff order.

Data from industry sources indicates that about 55 cable operators across the country have started switching off pay channel signals to households that have not made the shift yet.

"There is some consumer inertia that is delaying the progress, and as the final deadline for consumers looms near, some cable operators have started switching off signals to households that have failed to make the shift," says an executive from a distribution platform.

Among the DTH operators, while Dish TV has put channels behind a paywall for consumers who are yet to exercise their choice, Tata Sky has given its customers until February 13 to make the shift.

Sharma, who is spearheading Trai's new tariffand regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable services, said of the 90 million TV homes that have made their channel preferences clear, 65 million are cable TV homes and 25 million are DTH homes. Of the total 1.7 billion TV homes in the country, a billion are estimated to be cable TV homes, and the rest are DTH homes.

"We are guiding and helping the operators wherever required and are calling regular meetings to clarify matters," Sharma said.

For DTH subscribers, he clarified that it being a pre-paid model, as and when customers' long- and short-duration packs come to an end, people could make channel selection. However, if a consumer wants to proactively change the packs right now, the DTH operators have to migrate them, and adjust the pre-paid amount against the new bill.

TRAI also clarified that DPOs have to allow individual set top boxes (even within the same household) to have separate choice of channels, if the consumer wishes. However, the network capacity fee for the second or third cable/DTH connection in the same household can be discounted, provided the discount is uniform throughout the geographical area.

So while the first connection can cost up to Rs 130 (exclusive of taxes), the DPOs can give consumers a discount on the remaining connections in the household, and even waive the network capacity fee as long as the practice is uniform across a particular geography it operates in, and the platform operator is required to declare the discount/waiver.

While a recent Crisil report claimed that costs of TV viewing may rise by 25 per cent under the new regulatory regime, TRAI refuted the claim, citing data from two market players to argue that prices in specific locations like Delhi and Mumbai have come down. However, the said data has not made publicly available by the regulator yet.

- With inputs from PTI

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