Customers will now be able to see the price of the pay channels on their television screens as the broadcasting watchdog TRAI has made it mandatory to bring in transparency. According to a new Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) tariff order, every distributor of the channels should declare retail price of each pay channel and bouquet of pay channels payable by a subscriber.
Consumers will also be able to get 100 standard definition free-to-air channels at Rs 130 a month plus taxes. Beyond initial 100 channels capacity, the subscriber can avail channels in the slabs of 25 SD channels each, by paying an amount not exceeding Rs 20 (excluding taxes) per slab for a month.
However, a subscriber has to pay separate charges other than what they would pay for free-to-air channels for subscribing to pay channels or bouquet of pay channels. There has to be separate bouquet for pay channels and free-to-air channels.
Besides tariff order, the regulator has also notified interconnection and quality of service orders which will regulate the agreements and deal structure between the broadcasters and other stakeholders, along with the service quality offered to the subscribers.
Addressing the press conference, TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said the “guiding principles” for such move is to bring in “transparency into the sector, consumer protection and giving them choices, clarity and non-discrimination.” It will also lead to orderly growth of the broadcasting sector, Sharma added.
He said the subscribers often find it difficult to know the price of the channels, bouquets and other terms and conditions for subscription. It will take about six month for the implementation of the order which are scheduled to be put in place in phases.
Sharma said consumer wants more transparency in the packages offered by the broadcasters but it is observed that the terms and conditions are not widely published for information of the consumers. Sharma said that the preparation for bringing out these regulations was being done since the last one year.
In another significant consumer-friendly move, TRAI has issued fresh regulations under which a subscriber can get services temporarily suspended for up to 3 months in a year. There is also a mandatory provision “for recording” the consent of the consumer for any change in the subscribed package.