Regulators

TRAI releases consultation paper on tariff issues for TV services

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued its latest consultation paper on tariff issues related to television services.

The regulator has also invited comments and counter-comments on the Consultation Paper from stakeholders by 4 March and 18 March, 2016 respectively.

From the state-owned Doordarshan (DD) to cable and satellite television to advanced delivery platforms like direct-to-home (DTH), Headend-in-the-Sky (HITS), Over-the-Top (OTT) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), television has come a long way since DD first beamed its signals in India in 1959. The evolution of the broadcast industry has been driven largely by satellite TV distribution business and unorganised growth of cable TV.

The growth of multiple digital addressable platforms will inevitably lead to a sunset of analog cable TV system in the country. This sheer number and diversity of platforms delivering digital TV signals in an increasingly converged scenario requires an overhaul of the tariff regulatory framework.

TRAI said that in order to cater to innovative growth while protecting the interests of the stakeholders across the value chain, there is a need to institute a consolidated technology neutral regulatory framework for digital addressable systems.

“This consultation is an attempt to create an enabling environment for growth of the sector in the light of various developments related to technology, emergence of multiple distribution platforms, evolving business models, and enhanced addressability across platforms. The consultation process also looks at futuristic issues and emerging challenges,” the Authority said.

In view of the emerging trends in the TV broadcasting sector and changing consumption patterns of the consumers, TRAI said that there was a need to examine the tariff dispensation in a holistic manner.

TRAI listed the objectives of current consultation as below:

1) To carry out a review of existing tariff arrangements and developing a Comprehensive Tariff Structure for Addressable TV Distribution of “TV Broadcasting Services” across Digital Broadcasting Delivery Platforms (DTH/ Cable TV/ HITS/ IPTV) at wholesale and retail level.

2) To ensure that the tariff structure is simplified and rationalised so as to ensure transparency and equity across the value chain.

3) To reduce the incidence of disputes amongst stakeholders across the value chain encouraging healthy growth in the sector.

4) To ensure that subscribers have adequate choice in the broadcast TV services while they are also protected against irrational tariff structures and price hikes.

5) To encourage the investment in the TV sector

6) To encourage production of good quality content across different genres.

Issues covered in the consultation paper:

1) Tariff models at wholesale and retail levels

2) Channel pricing mechanism and methodologies

3) Issues related to Niche Channels

4) Pricing of High Definition (HD) channels

5) Ease of channel or bouquet subscription

6) Channel visibility on Electronic Program Guide (EPG)

7) Pay-per-program viewing and tariff options

8) Variants of channels

9) Carriage, Placement and Marketing fees.

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