MUMBAI: After having invited comments from stakeholders regarding the imposition of tariff on commercial subscribers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with the amendment to the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff Order, 2004 (6 of 2004).
The twelfth amendment will come into effect from the date of its publication in the official gazette.
Going with the 24 responses to the earlier consultation pepper, there is no distinction between an ordinary and a commercial subscriber. The definition of a ‘commercial establishment’ (CE) has been included and ‘commercial subscriber’ (CS) has been amended.
Accordingly, the new definition of a CE is “any premises wherein any trade, business or any work in connection with, or incidental or ancillary thereto, is carried on and includes a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (21 of 1860), and charitable or other trust, whether registered or not, which carries on any business, trade or work in connection with, or incidental or ancillary thereto, journalistic, printing and publishing establishments, educational, healthcare or other institutions run for private gain, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, eating houses, pubs, bars, residential hotels, malls, airport lounges, clubs or other places of public amusements or entertainment”.
The definition of a CS is “any person who receives broadcasting services or cable services at a place indicated by him to a cable operator or multi system operator or direct to home operator or head end in the sky operator or Internet Protocol television service provider, as the case may be, and uses such services for the benefit of his clients, customers, members or any other class or group of persons having access to his commercial establishment.”
Abiding by a recent Supreme Court verdict, TRAI has stated that in the rates of TV services, there should be no differentiation between an ordinary subscriber and a commercial subscriber and the charges for both should be per TV set basis. This is applicable when the establishment does not specifically charge the customer for the service. In case, it does, then the broadcaster and the CS can mutually agree on the tariff.
A broadcaster cannot directly supply signals to the CS just as the same isn’t done for an ordinary subscriber. The CS can obtain signals only from a distribution platform operator such as MSO, DTH operator, cable operator, IPTV operator or a HITS operator. This is in line with the rule regarding downlinking of TV channels in India, which states that an applicant company can provide decoders only to registered distribution platforms.
This would also ensure competition to be healthy.
The point regarding sub categorisation of commercial subscribers into similarly-placed groups has been dismissed with only one distinction of those who provide it as part of their amenities to guests and those who don’t.
The regulator expects that with this amendment, the distribution of TV services to commercial subscribers will be streamlined and the services would be available at competitive rates.