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TRAI issues new tariff order to balance consumer rate and broadcaster demands

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NEW DELHI: In a major initiative aimed at simplifying tariffs and meeting demands of consumers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today issued a new tariff order which apart from fixing tariffs also amended the definition of addressable systems (DAS) as understood at present.

The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Fourteenth Amendment) Order, 2015 said “addressable system” means an electronic device (which includes hardware and  its  associated  software)  or  more  than  one  electronic  device  put  in  an integrated system through which signals of digital addressable system can be sent in encrypted form, which can be decoded by the device or devices, having an activated Conditional Access System at the premises of the subscriber within the limits of authorisation made, through the Conditional Access System and the subscriber management system, on the explicit choice and request of such subscriber, by multi-system operator or DTH operator or IPTV operator or HITS operator  to the subscriber; and the expression “non-addressable system” shall be construed accordingly.

The Order shall come into force on the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.

The order also specifies that it will apply to specified states, cities, towns and areas notified from time to time and not the entire country.  

The order has specified that if any new pay channel is launched or any free-to-air channel is converted to pay channel after the first day of January 2015, then the ceiling shall not apply if the new pay channel or pay channel converted from free-to-air to pay channel is provided on a standalone basis, either individually or as part of new, separate bouquet.The broadcaster shall declare the genre of its channels and such genre shall be either News and Current Affairs or Infotainment or Sports or Kids or Music or Lifestyle or Movies or Religious or Devotional or General Entertainment (Hindi) or General Entertainment (English) or General Entertainment (regional language).

The rates of channels, referred to in the first proviso shall be similar to the rates of similar channels existing as on the date of such launch of new channel or such conversion of free-to-air channel into a pay channel and the ceiling of charges, specified under sub-clauses (a), (b) and (c) shall not, in any case, exceed by the rates of channels referred to in the third proviso.

In case a multi system operator or a cable operator reduces the number of pay channels that were being shown on the date of coming into force of the Telecommunication(Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Fourteenth  Amendment) Order 2015, the ceiling shall be reduced taking into account the rate(s) of the channel(s) so removed. In the case of the commercial subscriber, for each television connection, the charges payable by the Ordinary cable subscriber under sub-clause (a), shall be the ceiling.

If a commercial subscriber charges his customer or any person for a programme of a broadcaster shown within his premises, he shall, before he starts providing such service, enter into agreement with the broadcaster and the broadcaster may charge the commercial subscriber, for such programme, as may be agreed upon between them.

The charges referred to in sub-clause (a) shall in no case exceed the maximum amount of charges specified in the Part I or Part II, as the case may be, of the Schedule annexed with this Order.”

In determining the similarity of rates of similar channels referred to in the provisos below clause 3 above the following factors shall be taken into account:

(i)  the genre and language of the new  pay or converted Free to Air  to pay channel; and

(ii) the range of prices ascribed to the existing channels of similar genre and

language in the price of a bouquet(s) and prices of bouquet(s) that exist.”

Every broadcaster shall offer or cause to offer on non-discriminatory basis all its channels on a-la- carte basis to the multi system operator or the cable operator, as the case may be, and specify an a-la-carte rate, subject to provisions of sub-clause (2) of this  clause and clauses 3 and 3B, for each  pay channel offered by him.

In case a broadcaster, in addition to offering all its channels on a-la-carte basis, provides, without prejudice to the provisions of sub-clause (1), to a multi system operator or to a cable operator, pay channels as part of a bouquet consisting only of pay channels or both pay and free to air channels, the rate for such bouquet and a-la-carte rates for such pay channels forming part of that bouquet shall be subject to the following conditions, namely:-

(a) the sum of the a-la-carte rates of the pay channels forming part of such a bouquet shall in no case exceed one and half  times of the rate of that bouquet of which such pay channels are a part; and

(b) the a-la-carte rates of each pay channel, forming part of such a bouquet, shall in no case   exceed three times the average   rate of a pay channel   of that bouquet of which such pay channel is  a part and the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet be calculated in the following manner, namely:

If the bouquet rate is Rs. ‘X’ per month per subscriber and the number of pay channels is ‘Y’ in a bouquet, then  the average pay channel rate of the bouquet shall be Rs. ‘X’ divided by number of pay channels ‘Y’:

Provided that the composition of a bouquet existing as on the 1 day of December 2007, in so far as pay channels are concerned in that bouquet, shall not be changed: and nothing contained in the first proviso shall apply to those bouquets of channels existing on the first day of December 2007, which are required to be modified pursuant to the commencement of the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Seventh Amendment) Regulation, 2014.

 

If there is a bouquet, comprising of 10 channels of 3 broadcasters as per the following details.

After  the  reconfiguration  the  bouquets  to  be  offered  by  the  individual broadcasters shall be as under:

Broadcaster B shall offer the bouquet as per the following details

Broadcaster C shall offer the bouquet as per the following details:

While the Broadcaster A can offer channel 1 at a-la-carte rate of Rs. 2.”

TRAI has aslo appended an Explanatory Memorandum which traces the history of discussions and orders over the last 11 years on its website trai.gov.in.

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