Regulators

The TRAI broadcasting & cable tariff order simplified

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2016/10/12/TRAI1.jpg?itok=HFAW_R8l

MUMBAI: The industry could not have asked for a better Dusshera gift. On the eve of 11 October 2016, India’s telecom and TV distribution regulator  The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) announced two draft legislations  - The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2016 and Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2016 - that definitely look like progressing the stuck-in-quicksand-of-uncertainty broadcast TV and cable TV sector. More than that, they could possibly inject a modicum of organization, professionalism and structure to an otherwise disorganized-free-for-all TV distribution business.

The first of the draft legislation attempts to put in place a pricing framework for the heavily conflicted cable TV distribution sector. The second seeks to upgrade the quality of services that MSOs, cable TV operators provide to the consumers. Both have been much-awaited pieces of legislation.

The third which seeks to iron out the much-maligned and disputed subscription revenue stream that flows between broadcasters, MSOs, cable TV operators and consumers is expected to be announced soon.

Let’s look at the pricing draft whose purpose TRAI says is to ensure:

-       transparency, non-discrimination, non-exclusivity for all stakeholders in value chain

-       affordable TV services for customers

-       adequate choice to consumers

-       balance the commercial interests of broadcasters and distributors of television  channels to enable the distributors of television channels to recover their network cost and the broadcasters to recover their content cost.

The TRAI wants the new Tariff Order or the MRP pricing regime to become effective from 1 April 2017.In the new scheme, the authority has in detail defined the role of  broadcasters, LCOs and MSOs or HITS operators. This is an attempt to simplify the order for everyone to be able to understand it.

The role of the broadcaster

Under this, broadcasters will have to first declare their channels as a pay channel or a free to air channel, on an a  la carte basis, and in one of the following seven genres: devotional, general entertainment, infotainment, kids, movies, news and current affairs and sports. The TRAI has defined a ceiling on the maximum retail price (MRP) for each of the genres: devotional (Rs 3), general entertainment (Rs 12), infotainment (Rs 9), kids (Rs 7), movies (Rs 10), news and current affairs (Rs 5) and sports (Rs 19).

Each pay channel has to have a MRP  that can vary depending on the region, but which cannot be changed before the expiry of six months of it being declared. These rates will be platform agnostic – that is, uniform across the platforms (cable TV, DTH, HITS and IPTV) across a relevant geographical market, and will have to be declared on each broadcaster’s website and be transparently available to the TRAI, TV distributors and consumers.

The pay channels of a network or its subsidiary or holding company or subsidiary of the holding company can be packaged into a bouquet. This can be done while taking the precaution that the bouquet’s MRP is not less than 85 per cent of the sum of the MRPs of the a la carte pay channels forming a part of the bouquet. Similar conditions of holding prices for six months and in geographical areas also apply to bouquets.

The TRAI has introduced a category called a premium channel. Broadcasters are free to notify any channel as premium channel in their reference interconnect order (RIO). There shall be no price cap on maximum retail price notified by broadcasters for customers. For HD channels, the regulatory authority has, however, stated the price cannot be more than three times the MRP of the corresponding channel transmitted in SD. For those HD channels that do not have a corresponding SD channel, the benchmark will be the ceiling on the MRP of the genre it is in. These independent HD channels will have a price ceiling of three times the ceiling of the MRP of the genre.

As far as pay per view or VOD goes, the TRAI says it will bring it under its purview at a later date as these services are in their infancy in India and have minimal adoption.

The television distributor’s role

On the television distributor side, the TRAI has made them responsible to provide all channels on a la carte basis and it has also  proposed to formalize  a minimum subscription fee of Rs 130 per month per set top box from a subscriber for 100 SD channels.  Now if an HD channel is included in this, it will be equal to 2 SD channels.

The TRAI has stated that TV distributors cannot change the bouquets formed by broadcasters or its price, but they can form bouquets themselves of pay channels of different broadcasters provided that their price is not less than 85 per cent of the sum of the MRPs of the pay channels forming part of the bouquet. Free to air, HD and SD variants of the same channel and premium channels are not permitted to be included in these bouquets.

The authority says that the composition of the 100 channel basic tier should be left to the subscriber’s volition. It can consist of FTA, pay, premium channels, broadcast bouquets or even television distributor package bouquets. But it has to have the government mandated channels and at least five channels of each of the seven genres. If the subscriber opts for pay TV or premium or HD channels or broadcast or TV distributor bouquets, he will have to pay the retail price for these separately.

Subscribers wanting channels beyond the basic tier can opt for other channels by paying the TV distributor Rs 20 – excluding taxes-  for each slab of 25 channels and the broadcaster the MRP of each channel.

The TV distributors also have another responsibility. The electronic programming guide on the network must display the details of all channels and their MRP genre wise for easy navigation. Broadcasters who are relying on TV distributors to collect and remit the pay channel revenues will provide a 20 per cent distribution fee to them, which the latter can share with the LCOs who are actually doing the collection. Additionally, TV channels can also offer a maximum 15 per cent MRP discount to TV distributors to encourage them. Parameters for discounts will be disclosed by broadcasters in the RIOs that will be transparent and uniform for all distributors of television channels.

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/11/14/trai.jpg?itok=STz0D3a9
TRAI recommends DTH platform services be capped to 3% of carrying capacity

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with its recommendations on platform services (PS) offered by DTH operators. It suggests capping the total number of permitted PS for a DTH operator to 3 per cent of the total channel carrying capacity of the DTH operator platform and...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/11/12/TRAI.jpg?itok=9FGDlFWP
TRAI releases consultation paper on Interoperable Set Top Box

MUMBAI: - The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on interoperable Set Top Box (STB) for digital TV broadcasting services. A consultation paper is now issued with a view to elicit response from all the stakeholders for suggesting the best solution to...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/11/09/trai-aug19.jpg?itok=THPUtEbb
TRAI releases telecommunication services DAS audit manual

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Digital Addressable Systems Audit Manual. The new regulatory framework endeavours to provide a level playing field to all the service providers, effective choice to consumers...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/11/08/inb-new.jpg?itok=QfzFWQrJ
I&B Ministry to meet industry leaders to discuss online video content regulation

Amidst reports of government considering certification/censorship of online video content, the I &B Ministry will hold a second round of consultation next week with industry players, who are determined to oppose any pre-censorship on digital platform. The I&B Ministry has invited all ...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/31/trai.jpg?itok=a3-Omm7J
TRAI releases amended interconnection regulations aimed at fully-compliant audit regime

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday released the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Amendment) Regulations, 2019. The authority said during the consultation undertaken to prepare the Audit Manual certain comments and...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/25/tv.jpg?itok=EkrIj-sK
TRAI comes out with recommendations for KYC of DTH set top boxes

After issuing a consultation paper and holding open-house discussion on KYC of DTH set top boxes, the Telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) has finally come out with a set of recommendations on the issue. The authority has recommended the DTH operators to install DTH connections at the...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/15/mobile.jpg?itok=u3YqD9Hd
DPIIT seeks MIB views on issues regarding 26% FDI in digital media sector

MUMBAI: As the cabinet recently amended the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy allowing 26 per cent overseas investment in digital media with government approval, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sought the views of the Ministry of Information and...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/11/tab.jpg?itok=kiFijqlq
No current plans to impose regulation on OTT sector: MIB secretary

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) secretary Amit Khare said there is a need to rethink regulating over-the-top (OTT) platforms because some sections of the society are voicing concerns on its content. However, Khare also added that the ministry currently does not have any plan to...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/10/trai_0.jpg?itok=8Q_UqNnB
TRAI organises international training programme on 'Emerging Trends in Broadcasting' with ITU

MUMBAI: The   Intemational  Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) are jointly organizing an Intemational Training Program during 9th -11th October 2019 in New Delhi on "Emerging Trends in Broadcasting".

Regulators TRAI

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories