Scatmag.com

September 2019

TRAI TO REVIEW TARIFF ORDER


The New Tariff Order Has Failed Consumers & LCOs. TRAI Has Invited Suggestions For Changes



BACKGROUND

TRAI notified its 'New Regulatory Framework' for Broadcasting and Cable services on in March 2017. It was challenged in various courts by broadcasters (See Table 2). The Supreme Court approved TRAI's order completely, including the 15% bouquet cap and it was implemented from 29th December 2018 - without the crucial bouquet discount cap.


"Broadcasters Are Making Prices Of A-La-Carte Channels Illusory" TRAI










THE ISSUES

For reasons best known to TRAI, it implemented the new order, without the key clause that required bouquet price discount not to exceed 15% of the a-la-carte channel prices. This clause was pivotal to the order, as it prevented broadcasters from declaring inflated a-la-carte prices and forcing consumers to opt for the broadcaster's bouquets. TRAI admits this has indeed happened. "... flexibility was misused to throttle ... TV channel prices by giving huge discounts on the bouquets. It has been observed ...that broadcasters are offering bouquets at a discount of up to 70%. It indicates that ...broadcasters are making prices of a-la-carte channels illusory thereby impacting the a-la-carte choice of channels by consumers." DPOs & Broadcasters have offered too many bouquets, many of them similar, confusing the consumer. Stakeholders have also raised issues with NCF for different regions, NCF for Multi TV home, discount on long term plans, DD channels as part of one hundred channels etc. TRAI has listed 30 questions for consultation. However, for brevity, we have summarised the issues posed for consultation:

  1. Has a-la-carte to bouquet price flexibility been misused by broadcasters? Remedial Measures?
  2. Has heavy bouquet discounting (more than 15%) by some broadcasters, put other broadcasters at a disadvantage?
  3. Should the 15% cap on a-la-carte to bouquet prices be reintroduced? How should the cap be calculated?
  4. Should there be a cap on discounting by DPOs? How should it be calculated?
  5. What other measures to ensure that unwanted channels are not pushed to the consumers?
  6. Are broadcasters and DPOs offering too many bouquets? How should they be limited? (state, region, target market?)
  7. Should the ₹ 19 ceiling on MRP a-la-carte for bouquets be reviewed? To what?
  8. Have consumer interests been served by bouquets in the NTO?
  9. Have bouquets affected consumers' freedom to choose TV channels of their choice?
  10. How should the entire process of selection of channels by consumers be simplified?
  11. Change regulation to allow discounts in NCF and DRP for multiple STBs in a home?
  12. Should broadcasters be allowed to offer different MRP for a multi-TV home?
  13. Must Distributors allow separate selection of channels on multiple STBs in the same home?
  14. How should a long-term subscription be defined?
  15. Should DPOs be allowed to provide discounts on Long term subscriptions? Only on NCF or also on DRP? Any Cap on the discount?
  16. Should broadcasters be allowed to provide discounts on Long term subscriptions? Any Cap on the discount?
  17. Should distributors be allowed to offer promotional schemes on NCF, DRP ? Maximum time period of such schemes? How often in a calendar year? What safeguards required to protect consumers?
  18. How should channels be listed in the Electronic Program Guide (EPG)?
  19. Permit variable NCF for different regions? How should regions be categorized?
  20. Should NCF limit be revised above the 100-channel limit for ₹ 130.
  21. Should 25 DD mandatory channels not be included in the NCF? Any recommendations to MIB on the Must carry DD Channels?
  22. Stakeholders may also provide their comments on any other issue relevant to the present consultation.

LCO organisations must respond to this consultation, clearly stating well-reasoned and reasonable demands for increased revenue share to LCOs.



DEADLINE

Written comments on the Consultation Paper are invited by 16th September 2019.

Counter comments, if any, may be submitted by 30th September 2019. Comments and counter comments may be sent, preferably in electronic form to, Shri Arvind Kumar, Advisor (B&CS), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, by e-mail: arvind@trai.gov.in or vk.agarwal@trai.gov.in. n