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Broadcasters raise concern over TRAI consultation paper to review channel pricing

The industry is barely eight months into the new tariff regime.

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MUMBAI: The recent decision by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to review the issues of pricing of channels has brought about concern among broadcasters, according to a report by IANS. Broadcasters fear that the new approach, barely eight months into the new tariff regime, will only discourage and disincentivise fresh investment into the sector, which can have dire consequences.

TRAI had recently released a consultation paper, which noted that broadcasters have been offering discounts of up to 70 per cent for bouquets compared to a la carte rates causing discrepancies for consumers. The consultation paper looks into the issue of pricing of channels by broadcasters, cable operators and distribution platforms.

The paper primarily discusses issues related to discounts in the formation of the bouquets, ceiling price of channels for inclusion in bouquet, need for formation of bouquet by broadcasters and DPOs, variable NCF and discounts on long term plan.

However, analysts told IANS that the consultation paper ‘Tariff-related issues for broadcasting and cable services' relating to the new tariff order (NTO), which came into force from February 1, did not take into account that consumers across the world opt for bouquets rather than individual channels as the former are cheaper.

Analysts and broadcasters have also stressed that broadcasting cannot be counted as an essential service and those who cannot afford premium TV have the affordable options of viewing Doordarshan and FreeDish. Smaller channels and networks may even face an "existential crisis" in case TRAI implements a fresh pricing model.

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