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Trai to issue DTH tariff recommendations within 2 months
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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will release its recommendations on DTH tariff regulations and other issues within two months.

“The consultation paper was issued with the motive of bringing a level playing field for the DTH operators. We will be coming out with our recommendations on DTH tariff within two months," Trai acting chairman AK Sawhney told Indiantelevision.com.

The broadcast sector regulator, which had issued a consultation paper on issues relating to tariff regulation on 6 March, is seeking views from all the stakeholders before it firms up a policy guidline.

The DTH industry has a total subscriber base of 13 million, added Sawhney.

Trai has also asked for views from stakeholders regarding value-added-services (such as movie-on-demand, pay-per-View), platform services (such as active learning, active stories) and carriage of radio channels on the direct-to-home platform.

DTH operators like Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV and Reliance’s Big TV have requested for a lower content rate regulation from the broadcasters. Trai had earlier directed broadcasters to fix the rates of their channels at 50 per cent of analogue cable for DTH operators.

“The benchmark of 50 per cent needs to be reviewed and amended so as to bring a uniformity, rationality and conformity between the rates of the channels for cable and DTH operators,” said Dish TV president Rajiv Khattar, while speaking at an open forum organised by Trai.

Agreed Big TV corporate affairs VP NP Singh: “At present tariff for DTH services at wholesale level are derived from non-Cas cable rates. There is not much competition in the cable TV service as there are only one or two operators in a service area, whereas in the case of DTH there are seven DTH operators including Doordarshan. Further, DTH operators have to compete with cable operators who do not have to pay licence fee. We, thus, strongly recommend that the tariff regulation for DTH service be fixed.”

Zee Network VP Arvind Mohan, however, felt DTH operators were suffering losses because their business model was awry. "DTH operators have increased their customer acquisition cost in their drive to mop up volumes. Also it is the misconception of DTH operators that there is no price ceiling in non-Cas areas. As per the ruling of Supreme Court, the Trai tariff order dated 4 October 2004 has been applied. The present directive of channels being priced at 50 per cent of their non-Cas rates for DTH should stay as a tariff order,” Mohan said.

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