Television

TRAI notification freezes cable TV rates as on 26 December 2003

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MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which a short while ago issued its "CAS consultation note", has frozen the prices of cable services in respect of free to air (FTA) and pay channels as on 26 December 2003 for CAS and non CAS areas.



This it has done through a fresh notification exercising the powers conferred on it by the government notification of 9 January that gave it additional responsibility of overseeing broadcasting and cable services as a regulator.



Through "The Telecommunication (Broadcasting And Cable) Services Tariff Order 2004" all channel rates have been frozen pending further orders at the levels they were at on 26 December.



The question the new order raises is whether connectivity will also be frozen as of 26 December? This is particularly relevant in the light of certain channels claiming that they have not increased their rates, but have reduced the rates, provided the cable ops and MSOs have increased their declared subscription base. Effectively, what this is tantamount to is a rate hike.



For the record, the operative part of "The Telecommunication (Broadcasting And Cable) Services Tariff Order 2004" is as follows:



"The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), vide a Notification issued today (Pausa 25, 1925 No. 301-3/2004-Eco) has specified a ceiling on "the rates at which the charges will be paid by the cable subscribers to cable operators, by the cable operators to multi service operators and by Multi Service Operators to broadcasters, as those prevailing on 26th December 2003 with respect to both free-to-air channels and pay channels, and for both CAS and non-CAS areas."



"This intervention will continue until a final determination by the TRAI on the various issues involved. The hon'ble Delhi High court, in cw no. 8993-4/2003 dated 26th December 2003, directed the continuance of implementation of CAS in Delhi on a trial basis, initially for a period of three months, after which appropriate directions would be issued after taking into account the feedback for the three months' experience. The ceiling on rates have therefore been specified as those prevailing on 26th December, 2003."

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