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General News Distributors cannot charge more than Rs 130 per month for 100 SD channels: TRAI order
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MUMBAI: Consumers will be now able to receive 100 standard definition channels at Rs 130 a month plus taxes, according to the new TRAI tariff order issued last Friday. "The distribution of network capacity required for initial 100 Standard Definition (SD) channels can be availed by the subscriber by paying an amount not exceeding Rs 130, excluding taxes, per month to the distributor of TV channels," TRAI said in a statement.

The regulator stated that no separate charges other than this Network Capacity Fee (NCF) would be paid by the subscribers for opting Free-to-Air channels or bouquet of Free-to-Air channels.

Digital addressable television distribution platforms, TRAI stated, are envisaged to provide several benefits to consumers of broadcasting services including better quality of signals, choice of channels, availability of multimedia services etc. With the completion of first three phases of digitization to a large extent, though the addressability, capacity and quality of signal have improved, issues relatéd to consumer choice, transparency and non-discrimination.

Broadcasters want freedom to price their channels. Their contention is that since pricing at retail level is with distributors of television channels, the flexibility to maximise the revenue through advertisement and subscription fee has been compromised. News broadcasters, who primarily provide free-to- air (FTA) channels and have advertisements as only source of revenue, claim that many a time their channels at retail level are priced in such a manner that even pay channels are cheaper than their FTA channels. In the present framework distributors of television channels feel that they are totally dependent on effective negotiations with broadcasters for monetisation of their investment and due to non-transparency in the system, they end up at a loss while bargaining with the broadcasters.

According to TRAI, subscribers feel that the pricing of channels is skewed resulting effectively in no choice of individual channels. They feel lack of transparency. Questions are raised time and again as to why same channel is priced so differently by different distribution platform operators.

While prescribing the new regulatory framework, the TRAI has kept in mind the discussions in the Parliament on the motion for consideration of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 20 11, wherein the then Minister of Information and Broadcasting stated that TRAI would establish a system wherein consumers would be free to choose a-la- carte channels of choice and they would not be required to subscribe to bouquets.

While framing this Tariff Order, the emphasis of the Authority has been to ensure transparency, non-discrimination and consumer protection.

Source:
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Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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