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TRAI extends deadline to 31 Jan for migration to new tariff regime

TRAI may hold weekly review meetings with DPOs to get updates on the migration

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MUMBAI: Stakeholders of India’s broadcast sector can now breathe a sigh of relief as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the date of customer migration to the new tariff regime by a month to 31 January 2019.

With 28 December, the initial deadline for the tariff order implementation neared, the DPOs in particular were highly concerned how the transition would pan out.

Thanks to the decision, now DPOs can seek options from consumers till 31 January. Customers will be migrated as per their choice from 1 February.

"We had a meeting of broadcasters, DTH operators, and MSOs today [Thursday]. Everyone confirmed their readiness to implement new regulations. However, they requested that some more time may be given to seek options from subscribers for smooth and interruption free migrations," TRAI secretary Sunil K Gupta was quoted as saying by a PTI report.

The regulatory body may consider holding weekly review meetings with industry representatives to monitor the progress of the transition of TV viewers, a Hindu Business Line report stated. The report also added that the DPOs are likely to be asked to submit weekly reports on the number of subscribers who have migrated to the new subscription plans in accordance with the new tariff order.

“It is definitely a step forward from the original plan. Once the bouquet prices are declared by DPOs, only then consumers can migrate to the new plan. These are all interlinked – broadcaster prices have come based on which the DPOs have to declare their prices, they need time for that. Once they (DPOs) declare, consumers need time for selecting a plan. So there needs to be a logical gap between the declaration of prices by broadcasters and then a gap for the DPOs to declare their prices and then time for consumers to choose also,” KCCL CEO Shaji Mathews told Indiantelevision.com

Earlier this week, TRAI also squashed all rumours about a channel blackout on 29 December. TRAI asserted that it advised all broadcasters, DPOs and LCOs to ensure there is no disruption of TV services. TRAI also added then that it was working on a detailed migration plan for all subscribers.

“It will help consumers and DPOs as well as broadcasters. This is not only required for DPOs, if there’s no time consumers will not choose new packages or channels which means there will be a blackout of channels and then broadcasters will suffer as DPOs will not be able to collect money. This is a step towards avoiding a blackout,” he added.

The new tariff order will give the power of choice to the hand of consumers. While until now consumers only watch the channels offered by DPOs, the new order allows them to select their desired TV channels and pay accordingly. Currently, all the broadcasters have updated their channel and package pricing.

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