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New tariff regime: Trai gives TV viewers up to March 31 to choose channels

Urvi Malvania/ 12 Feb 19 | 07:37 PM

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on Tuesday extended the deadline for cable TV subscribers to shift to the new tariff order regime till March 31. In the meantime, distribution platform operators (DPOs) have been asked to either continue the new packs, or migrate the consumers to the ‘Best Fit’ pack.

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“The ‘Best Fit Plan’ shall be designed based on Consumers’ usage pattern, language spoken and popularity of channels. It should preferably be a blended combination of various Genre, while making ‘Best Fit Plan’ for a subscriber, DPOs should ensure that payout per month of the ‘Best Fit Plan’ generally does not exceed the payout per month of existing tariff plan of the subscriber," the regulator notified DTH and cable operators.

Subscribers will be free to change their ‘Best Fit Plan’ at any date and time on or before July 31 this year 2019 and DPOs are directed to convert their ‘Best Fit Plan’ into the desired pack (channel/Bouquet) within 72 hours from the time choice exercised by the subscriber. There will be no ‘lock-in period’ for the subscribers who have been migrated to ‘Best Fit Plan’ by DPOs till March 31.

The Indian TV industry shifted to a 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.

In a notification, the regulator said that of the approx. 100 million cable service TV homes and 67 million DTH TV homes in the country, nearly 65 per cent of the subscribers of the cable services (65 million homes) and 35 per cent subscribers of the DTH services (close to 24 million homes) have already exercised the options.

Announcing the extension of the deadline, Trai added, “It was brought to the notice of the Authority that as the system of selecting channels/bouquet by the subscribers had been introduced for first time in the country, some subscribers were facing difficulties in selecting the channels/bouquet of their choice. In some cases, LCOs have not been able to reach out to subscriber to create awareness among them and collect the options."

The decision was taken after the regulator held a meeting of all DTH operators and major Multi system Operators (MSO) were convened in the TRAI office on February 11 where operators informed that implementation of migration was in full swing and they stated that subscribers who had exercised their option have been migrated to new framework.

The regulator reiterated that subscribers who have taken long term packs will continue to avail the services for the contracted period.  However, they have freedom to choose the channels of their choice under the new regulatory framework and in case if they exercise this option, money for the remaining period shall be adjusted for their future use.

Focus on consumerBest Fit Plans determined by usage pattern, language, and popularity of channels in a geography

Consumers can change to their desired pack/channels from the Best Fit Plan by July 31

The decision was taken after the regulator held a meeting with all DTH operators and major MSOs on February 11

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