The broadcasting industry has been granted some breathing space to implement the new Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) tariff order. The regulator had, earlier this week, indicated it would release a migration plan to ensure smooth implementation of the new tariff regime.
In order to help the service providers migrate their subscribers to the new framework without causing any inconvenience, Trai has issued a schedule of activities. All existing packs/plans/bouquets to the subscribers are to be continued uninterrupted till January 31.
Also, no service provider will be required to disconnect any signal/feed to any multisystem-operator/local cable operator or subscriber on that date. Distribution platforms have been asked to devise their own mechanisms to reach out to all the subscribers, and seek their options.
Lastly, all distribution platforms are required to move all their subscribers to new the framework by February 1.
The Trai circular also mentioned, “All the provisions of the Interconnection Regulations 2017, the QoS Regulations 2017 and the Tariff Order 2017 are in force, and the regulatory provisions contained therein may be strictly complied with, while implementing the prescribed schedule of activities. Accordingly, DPOs shall declare the distributor retail price and network capacity fee according to the timelines given in the Trai press release dated July 3, 2018, i.e. by December 29, 2018.”
The new tariff order, as mandated by Trai, comes into effect on December 29, which makes it compulsory for all broadcasters and distributors to make every channel available on an a-la-carte basis. While channels may be bundled at the broadcaster or cable/DTH-level, the choice will ultimately lie with the consumer.
The regulation mandates price parity in rates between DTH and cable platforms, and also makes it compulsory for broadcasters to declare the maximum retail price of their channels.
Meanwhile, the Madras High Court has refused to issue an interim stay against the TRAI new broadcasting tariff order, in a petition filed by local cable TV operators.