Pay channels fixed at Rs 5 each in CAS regime

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today set a common price on all pay channels directing that under the conditional access system (CAS) regime they will cost Rs 5 per channel per subscriber per month (excluding taxes).

The broadcast regulator has fixed the price of free-to-air (FTA) channels in the basic tier at Rs 77 (exclusive of taxes).
The regulator, which oversees the broadcast and telecom sectors, has fixed the costing for pay channels whether new or existing at Rs 5 making it mandatory to offer all pay channels on a la carte basis.

However, the broadcasters have been given the option to fix prices of individual pay channels, but within the prescribed ceiling. One of the salient features the regulator has highlighted is that the 'minimum period of subscription of a pay channel has to be at least four months.

This tariff will come into effect from 31 December 2006 in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
Pertaining to the FTA channels, the price charged will be Rs 77 (exclusive of taxes) per subscriber/ month for a minimum of 30 channels. Additional FTA channels, if provided, also have to be accommodated within the above maximum amount.

Trai has ensured adequate commercial interoperability, which means that a consumer can easily exit the scheme whenever desired. The regulatory has drawn two schemes for supply of set top boxes by the MSO / cable operators to compulsorily provide as part of a standard tariff package:

a monthly rental of Rs 30 per digital set top box plus a refundable deposit of Rs 999 per box (refund will be made after deducting Rs 12.50 per month for use of the STB).

a monthly rental 45 per digital set top box (Rs 23 for analogue set top box) with a refundable deposit of Rs 250 per box (refund will be made after deducting Rs 3 per month for use of the STB).

The operators can offer alternative tariff packages in addition to the mandated standard tariff package, without any separate charges for installation, activation or reactivation, smart card viewing card and repair and maintenance (for five years) allowed. This salient aspect comes into force from 15 October 2006.

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