Regulators

Trai seeks opinion for fixing basic tier cable TV rates under CAS

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is seeking industry opinion on whether Rs 77 (excluding tax) should be the maximum cable operators can charge monthly from their subscribers for the basic tier services in areas where conditional access (CAS) is introduced.

The draft tariff amendment order notification, which was released on Thursday, is part of Trai's initiation to come out with appropriate regulations for interconnection, quality of service, terms of rental for set-top boxes as well as tariffs. The broadcast and cable regulator will have to fix the basic service tier rates for CAS.

"The maximum amount which a cable operator may demand from a subscriber for receiving the programmes transmitted in the ‘basic service tier’ provided by such cable operator shall not exceed Rs 77 per month exclusive of taxes, for a minimum of thirty free-to-air channels. Free-to-air channels, over and above the basic service tier, would also be made available to the subscribers within the maximum amount mentioned above," Trai said in a statement.

In 2003, the government had fixed a ceiling rate of Rs 72 a month per subscriber for the basic service tier under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. The regulator had, in its tariff order dated 01.10.2004, fixed a general ceiling across the value chain, both in respect of free-to-air and pay channels, at the levels prevalent as on 26 December 2003.

Subsequently, on 1 December 2004, Trai allowed an increase of seven per cent in order to make adjustments for inflation, with effect from 1st January, 2005. Another four per cent increase on account of inflation was allowed by Trai with effect from 1 January 2006, but this increase has been stayed by the Tdsat (Telecom Disputes Settlement And Appellate Tribunal).

The Delhi High Court recently directed the implementation of CAS in the notified areas of the three metros of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi before 31 December 2006.

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