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Order is erroneous and unreasonable
The telecom regulator's order is neither fair to the broadcaster who is the actual content provider nor does it benefit the subscriber. Going by the order, a broadcaster must offer its channels to distributors of television channels using addressable systems on a-la-carte rate that should not be more than 35% of the rate of the channel as specified by the broadcaster for non-addressable systems against the current 50% rate. The basis of the tariff structure for addressable systems is erroneous and devoid of reason. The point that needs consideration in the case of an a-la-carte channel is whether the DTH operator can ask for the same discount as they would expect when they were distributing the channel the way non-addressable cable operators do, but without the disadvantages of under-declaration.

To start with, TRAI had to regulate tariffs in the broadcasting sector to protect the interests of the consumer because there was lack of competition and the market was not mature. But competition has intensified in the broadcasting industry today, which has grown manifold, giving the viewer an abundant choice.

But broadcasters have been at the receiving end of TRAI notifications over the last few years. The business of broadcasters in general and sports broadcasters in particular - who spend millions of dollars to acquire marquee sports events rights across the globe - has eroded. So, should content creators or broadcasters be obliged to offer their channels at a universal discount irrespective of volumes and content?

Is it then fair to make it mandatory for private sports broadcasters, already making huge losses, to share events of 'national importance' as determined by the government with Prasar Bharati? Is regulation necessary given the fact that there is sufficient competition in each genre and the prices for each of these genres can be determined by market forces? Based on the tariff regime prescribed by TRAI, a consumer can watch three channels of a broadcaster for 24 hours per month, and pay half the price than he would pay for watching a movie for two hours. Is this fair?

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