Regulators

TRAI issues draft tariff order for non addressable cable TV systems

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with its draft tariff order for non addressable cable TV system and is asking for comments on the same from stakeholders.

This comes after the Supreme Court’s order in September wherein it had asked stakeholders to submit views by 30 September, which the TRAI has now extended by 15 December, which it says will be final.

To be called Telecommunication (Broadcasting and cable) services (seventh) (non-addressable systems) Tariff Order, 2014 (draft) it will come into effect from 1 January 2015 and will be applicable to broadcasting and cable services provided to cable subscribers throughout India through non addressable systems. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Fourth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2010 (1 of 2010) shall apply to only DAS areas.

For wholesale tariff, broadcasters have to specify their channels rates both a-la-carte as well as bouquets provided that the a-la-carte and bouquet rates for  pay and free to air (FTA) channels shall not firstly exceed its current rate before the order comes into force.

In a bouquet the sum of the a-la-carte rates of all channels shall not exceed 1.5 the rate of the entire bouquet. The a-la-carte rate of one channel will not exceed thrice the average rate of a pay channel. The bouquet composition as on 1 December 2007 shall not change.

If a bouquet is to be modified post this order coming into existence, this is how it will be calculated: The rate of the modified bouquet = [rate of the existing bouquet] x [sum of a-la-carte rate of pay channels comprising the modified bouquet/sum of a-la-carte rate of all the pay channels comprising the existing bouquet].

Rates of channels or bouquets can only be increased by a TRAI order while it can be reduced without the same. For conversion of channels from pay to FTA or discontinuation, the bouquet prices need to be modified accordingly. New channel launches will be priced similar to other channels in its genre and language. For new launches or conversions, a-la-carte as well as bouquet rates shall be declared 30 days in advance.

The charges that a local cable operator (LCO) shall pay to a multi system operator (MSO) will have to be mutually decided. The LCOs have been told to issue bills to subscribers with a breakup of the number of channels, the charges levied (excluding taxes), nature and rates of taxes levied and amount thereof and then issue a receipt for the same.

The draft tariff order is proposed for the cable TV services offered through non addressable (analogue) cable TV systems. The operators who implement DAS before the notified cut off dates for phase III and IV will be governed by the DAS regulatory regime.

The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff Order 2004 (6 of 2004) has been repealed with this new one that will be called the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and cable) services (seventh) (non-addressable systems) Tariff Order, 2014 (draft).

The Supreme Court in its order has disposed off the appeals, while leaving all the questions of law open. It also ordered that status quo will continue till 31 December 2014. The order further stated that TRAI will attempt to notify the fresh tariff order immediately after 31 December 2014. Since the last consultation paper had been given out in 2010, TRAI felt that stakeholders need to relook entirely.

On 10 February 2014 five amendments, to the tariff orders and regulations were notified by TRAI. These amendments were made to bring in clarity in the roles and responsibilities of the broadcasters and their authorised agents. On 31 March 2014, eleventh amendment to the tariff order applicable for non-addressable cable TV systems was notified by TRAI to allow inflationary adjustment at, both, retail and wholesale levels.

Click here to read the consultation on draft tariff order

Click here to read the press release

Click here to read the report submitted to Supreme Court

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