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TRAI provides relief to TV distribution platforms in revised tariff order

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In Short:

The TRAI has issued new regulations to reduce the burden on DPOs as pay-TV customers switch platforms. The cap on NCF has been removed and DPOs can now charge based on paying capacity. FTA channels on DD Free Dish will be free on DPOs charging subscription fees. DPOs can offer a 45% discount on a-la-carte channels. The TRAI has also recommended upgrades to DD Free Dish.

TRAI issues tariff orders and interconnection regulations to reduce burden on DPOs

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued tariff orders and interconnection regulations to reduce the regulatory burden on distribution platform operators (DPOs) amidst the migration of pay-TV customers to other platforms.

Lifting the cap on Network Capacity Fee

The regulator has lifted the cap on network capacity fee (NCF) and brought it under forbearance to allow DPOs the ability to charge customers based on their paying capacity. Earlier, the cap on NCF was Rs 130 for 200 channels and Rs 160 for over 200 channels.

A cable TV company’s top executive argued that an NCF forbearance would enable DPOs to charge more NCF from high-end consumers while charging less from low-income customers.

New Tariff Order Regime

The new tariff order (NTO) regime requires TV consumers to pay subscription fees for TV channels to broadcasters and NCF, also called an infrastructure fee, to DPOs like Tata Play, Dish TV, Hathway, and DEN.

The regulator has also mandated that free-to-air (FTA) channels on Prasar Bharati-owned DD Free Dish will also be free on DPOs that charge subscription fees.

Discounts on A-la-carte Channels

The TRAI has brought DPOs on par with broadcasters by allowing them to offer a 45% discount on a-la-carte channels while creating bouquets for customers. However, a senior executive from a leading media firm stated that DPOs are hardly in a position to offer such a discount.

Changes in Carriage Fee

The regulator has also hiked the monthly carriage fee per channel to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 4 lakh while removing the distinction between standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) channels.

Recommendations for Language and Genre Arrangement

In separate recommendations to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), the TRAI suggested gathering information from broadcasters about the primary language and sub-genre of channels before granting permission. It also recommended upgrading DD Free Dish to an addressable system within a specified timeframe.

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