Broadcasters want mandatory DD channels to be part of NCF base pack

Prasar Bharati and other public broadcasters share their views on TRAI’s consultation paper

MUMBAI: Prasar Bharati and other private broadcasters want the 25 DD mandatory channels to be part of 100 FTA channels permitted in the Network Capacity Fee of Rs 130. The public broadcaster is of the view that the channels notified by the central government should be made available to subscribers without any additional monetary burden on the subscribers.

The public broadcaster has shared its comments only related to the question of whether 25 DD mandatory channels be over and above the One hundred channels permitted in the NCF of Rs 130 in Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s consultation paper on tariff-related issue for broadcasting and cable services.

Private broadcasters like Zee TV, Sony Entertainment Television, Discovery Communications, Times Network and IBF have shared similar views on the question raised by TRAI.

TRAI had received several consumer complaints wherein consumers have shown concerns about the mandatory DD channels within one hundred channels. Consumers are of view that since NCF is prescribed to cater for 100 SD channels capacity, subscribers must be allowed the freedom to select 100 SD channels. Mandatory 25 channels of DD are an additional burden on the consumers. They are of the opinion that either customers should be given freedom not to choose any/all DD mandatory channels or these channels should be over and above the 100 channels selected by the subscriber.

Therefore, the authority had asked the industry in its consultation, Whether 25 DD mandatory channels be over and above the One hundred channels permitted in the NCF of Rs. 130/-? To which Prasar Bharati commented that 25 channels notified by the central government should be available to all even if the subscribers is not able to renew its subscription still they should be able to avail public broadcasting services.

It further said, “Since the STBs are not yet technically interoperable Prasar Bharati is of the view that in case a subscriber does not renew its subscription, the notified channel should continue to be available to such subscribers in order to benefit the subscribers to avail public broadcasting services. This will ensure dissemination of any information of national importance to the subscribers, whether his connection is active or not at that time. However, for such subscribers, any repair or maintenance charges towards customer premises equipment shall be payable by the subscriber as per rates prescribed by the operator. This will also help containing e-waste.”

“These channels are primarily public service broadcasting channels intended to inform, educate and entertain the masses of India. In fact, the intent of the government, and rightly so, is to provide these channels of the public service broadcaster and channels of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to the citizens of India, free of cost, through any possible means of licensed/authorised delivery mechanism. Therefore, it is necessary that, in provisioning of these channels by various DPOs to their subscribers, no condition should be prescribed by them which affects reachability of such channels to the masses,” it opined. 

IBF said, “It should be a part of the 100 channels. In view of the aforesaid regulatory regime already existing, it is in the best of interest of the subscribers, the authority allows the system to grow at the current existing practices and then review after a period of two years.

Discovery Communications said, “In our opinion, the system currently introduced and in place should be continued and tested for a longer period of time. There should not be any changes made in the NCF pack even before the new regime is fully implemented. In our view, TRAI should allow the current NCF pack to continue with 25 DD channels for at least 2 years before it starts reviewing the regime again. Therefore, in our opinion, the 25 mandatory DD channels should continue to be included in the 100 FTA channels permitted in the NCF of Rs 130.”

Times network said, “The Doordarshan channels are important channels and they should be included in the basic tier. A consumer would not mind watching these channels/ having access to these channels or paying small amount of NCF charges for the same keeping the national interest in mind.”

Zee TV also said that the 25 DD mandatory channels should be provided to each and every subscriber by the DPO within the initial 100 channels only.  

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