Mumbai: Leading television broadcasters have increased channel a-la-carte and bouquet rates. Leading broadcasters like Zee, Sony, and Sun TV have already revealed their increased prices as a direct result of the regulations' amendments, and Star TV and Colors are anticipated to follow suit shortly. The unifying element among the updated tariffs, which will take effect on 1 February 2023, is an increase in the cost of channels and bouquets. Zee and Sony have previously disclosed a price hike for their most well-liked bouquets.
According to the report, all of the above-mentioned leading broadcasters have also filed their reference interconnect offers (RIO). These RIOs, published by service providers, often specify the terms and conditions on which other service providers may seek interconnection. Accordingly, even Disney Star India and Viacom18 are expected to file their RIOs soon, as per the report.
"The TRAI announced yet one more amendment to the tariff regulations (third in three years) on 22nd November. The regulator has been constantly flip-flopping on channel prices, and the latest Amendment is yet another attempt. What began as an effort to ensure that TV channel rates were reasonably priced for consumers and that the choice of channels or bouquets was in the hands of the consumers, has now taken a 180-degree turn, with the regulator justifying the creation of bouquets with huge discounts with utter disregard for consumer choice. Because the broadcaster has complete freedom to change prices at any time, this move will eventually assist broadcasters in pushing non-popular channels to consumers under the guise of ‘bouquets’ at higher prices," one of the sources from a channel said.
"There appear to be just two options left for consumers: either pay more for a-la-carte channels or pay more to subscribe to bouquets and be forced to watch both popular and less-popular channels. Customers will be required to pay a higher subscription fee even for their current channel/bouquet choices because cable TV and DTH service providers are unable to offer their customers such a discount," he further added.
While Sony has announced the discontinuation of their most popular and least expensive bouquets, Happy India 31 (Hindi, Marathi, and Bangla), which had an MRP of Rs 30.50 + GST = Rs 35.99, they have also announced the availability of their lowest-priced bouquets, Happy India Smart (Hindi), which would have an MRP of Rs 43 + GST = Rs 50.74 and the Marathi and Bangla variants of the same bouquet, which would be available to customers This implies that with adding 2 channels, the bouquet's rates will increase by about 51 per cent. (BBC Earth and Sony Sports Ten 3). The price of other well-known Happy India bouquets is also rising by 15 per cent to 30 per cent +, which will ultimately put pressure on the consumer's pocketbook.
Zee, on the other hand, has made the decision to raise bouquet charges by 10 per cent to __ per cent after eliminating all Zee News channels from its bouquets and adding a few unpopular channels. Additionally, Zee drastically raised the a-la-carte prices for certain of its channels. Zee Keralam, a Malayalam GEC channel, would increase by 9900 per cent from its current monthly price of Rs 0.10 + GST to Rs 10.00 + GST = Rs 11.80.
Similar to this, Zee Talkies, a Marathi movie channel, will see an increase of 350 per cent from its current price of Rs 2 to Rs 9; Zee Pichhar, a newly launched channel, will see an increase of 233 per cent from Rs 3 to Rs. 10; Zee Thirai will see an increase of 100 per cent from Rs 5 to Rs 10; Hindi movie channels, & Pictures and Zee Cinema, will see an increase of 67 per cent from Rs 6 to Rs 10, and 27 per cent from Rs 15 to Rs 19, respectively.
Zee has set different pricing for the abovementioned News channels and will now distribute them through Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL). The fact that some of these channels, including Movies and News, given by Zee in GEC are accessible for free on DD FreeDish is particularly significant, as opposed to the already burdened cable TV and DTH users, who must pay for the same channels.
CCI has given Zee and Sony conditional clearance for their proposed merger. The CCI has expressed worries about the combined entity's potential for market dominance. By promising the watchdog that they would not misuse their dominating position, both businesses allayed the CCI's concerns. But now that CCI has given its blessing, it is very evident what the true image of dominance looks like.
The updated pricing from other well-known broadcasters like Disney/Star and Viacom18 is currently on hold. Sources in the industry have indicated that they would also be introducing channel and bouquet pricing that are more expensive than the prevailing rates. Since the cable TV and DTH service providers are required by law to give the declared rates to consumers, the consumer will bear the brunt of all these pricing increases.