Regulators

TRAI releases draft tariff & consumer DAS regulations

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MUMBAI: The draft cable TV tariff and quality of services (consumer protection) orders have been talked about for a long time. But the wait is over now as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released two of them a short while ago on its website. Called the Consultation on the draft Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital addressable systems) Regulations, 2016 and the Consultation on the draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2016 both seek to keep the consumer at the centre of cable TV ecosystem.

The Tariff order states that broadcasters will have to qualify a channel as a pay TV or a free channel. They will have to offer pay channels on an a la carte basis and they can also offer them on a bouquet basis provided the maximum retail price of such bouquet of pay channels shall not be less than eighty five percent of the sum of maximum retail prices of the a-la-carte pay channels forming part of the bouquet. Additionally, the
broadcaster will have to ensure that the maximum retail price of such bouquet of pay channels in a relevant geographical area shall be uniform for all distribution platforms in that area; that it should not contain any free to air channel or HD or SD variants of the same channels or any premium channels.

The quality of service regulations have addressed almost every aspect of the cable TV ecosystem going forward fixing the responsibility of the broadcaster, the cable TV platform, the distributor and consumer. It covers everything from subscriber management systems to disconnection and reconnection of services to a la carte pricing to package pricing to the tariffs that can be charged by both cable TV operators, MSOs, and broadcasters to billing to creating consumer awareness about DAS.

The digitalization of cable TV has been in a bit of a limbo specially in Phase III areas as it has been a High Court order to mandate the switch off of analogue signals. With this draft regulations, coming in, the industry should have some idea about the direction the cable TV ecosystem is headed, once implemented.

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