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Trai likely to recommend 5-8 % hike in cable rates

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NEW DELHI: Broadcast and cable regulator, Trai, is expected to recommend a 5-8 per cent annual hike in the cable TV prices, in line with the yearly rise in inflation for the calendar year 2004.

The new prices will come into effect from 26 December and an announcement will be made before that.

"We cannot keep the cable prices frozen forever and there would be some increase in the pricing. We expect the annual hike to be equivalent to the consumer price index rise or the annual increase in inflation," Trai chief Pradip Baijal said today.

Quizzed whether the price revision could work out to between 5-8 per cent as increase in inflation, Baijal agreed saying, "It should be in that region."

Though Telecom regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today issued The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff Order 2004, effective from today itself, the prices are to be kept in the coolers till new rates or a formula to calculate it is announced by Trai.

The regulator is reviewing the subscription charges that were frozen since December 26, 2003. Trai said in a statement today: "This revision is expected to be completed in November 2004, so that it can take effect from 26 December 2004, that is one year from the date from which the prices had been frozen."

The authority through its order dated 15 January, 2004 and subsequent amendments had specified that the all cable TV-related charges (excluding taxes) were being frozen as of 26 December 2003.

A number of representations had been received seeking clarification on the manner in which new pay channels can be priced and the impact on retail prices. Similarly, clarifications have also been sought on the impact of channels that were free-to-air on 26 December, 2003 and having later converted to pay.

According to Trai, this issue has been carefully considered by the authority. Since new channels will be coming into the market, a mechanism has to be provided for pricing of these new channels. At the same time, there is a need to conserve the protection provided to the consumers by the Tariff Order dated 15 January, 2004.

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