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Cable cos seek autonomy in pricing; IB ministry forwards request to Trai

According to Trai's new tariff order (NTO) regime, distributors can not break broadcaster bouquets and must offer them to customers without making any changes

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to include the issue of granting autonomy to TV distributors in bouquet (group of TV channels offered as a package) formation by allowing them to break broadcaster bouquets in its consultation paper that was released on August 8, The Economic Times (ET) reported citing people aware of the development.

The ministry received a representation from the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), which requested it to intervene in the matter. The matter may turn into a turf war between the government and Trai, as Trai controls TV channel pricing, the report said.

The ministry wrote to the Trai secretary requesting the regulator to consider AIDCF's request. This came after AIDCF wrote to the Ministry after Trai decided not to include the bouquet formation issue in its consultation paper.

Also Read: Trai recommends entry fee cut for mobile, other telecom service licences

As things stand, Trai is evaluating the letter from the ministry in consultation with its legal team, a Trai official told ET. "As a regulator, Trai doesn't need to respond to every letter that it receives", the official added.

What are the rules about channel bouquets?

According to Trai's new tariff order (NTO) regime, distributors can not break broadcaster bouquets and must offer them to customers without making any changes. This allows broadcasters to create bouquets in a way that drives maximum reach.

Before the latest NTO regime, distributors could create their own channel bouquets. However, under the new NTO regime, broadcasters charge MRP for à la carte channels and bouquets directly from consumers while the distributors act as intermediaries between consumers and broadcasters, the ET report said.

What has AIDCF said?

In its letter to the IB Ministry, the AIDCF has said that consumers will have to pay 21 per cent less charges if the distributors are allowed to break the broadcaster bouquets. AIDCF is the apex body of cable TV service providers.

Also Read: Trai to float a consultation paper on regulations for OTT players soon

Other than this, AIDCF also wrote to Trai on August 17, requesting it to publish a detailed consultation paper that talks about all the important concerns related to TV distribution, the ET report said.

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First Published: Sep 20 2023 | 11:08 AM IST

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