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TRAI’s revamped tariff orders for DTH, cable providers: Here’s how it impacts your TV bill

TRAI new DTH, cable order: Users will get more channels at the base pack price of Rs 130, thanks to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) new orders, which were issued on the first of January, 2020.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi |
January 6, 2020 5:06:53 pm
TRAI, TRAI DTH order, TRAI NCF order, TRAI new NCF charge, DTH cable NCF charge, DTH base charge, TRAI 200 channels, TRAI cable more channels TRAI revamps DTH, cable operator tariffs again, which will benefit users with more channels for base recharge of Rs 130. Here are details.

Soon, your cable and DTH provider will give more channels at the base pack price of Rs 130, thanks to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new orders, which were issued on the first of January, 2020. TRAI has made some changes in the tariff conditions for broadcasting and cable services with this new order, which goes into effect from March 1, 2020.

TRAI implemented new rules for all cable and DTH companies last year, which were supposed to give consumers more choices, when it came to choosing channels for their cable and DTH connection, though these did cause a lot of confusion as well. The new order in 2020 brings reduced Network Capacity Fee (NCF) charges along with other key changes. Here’s what it will mean for users.

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TRAI Jan 2020 order: More channels, NCF charges are same

TRAI has increased the limit of free channels under NCF of Rs 130 to 200. What this means is that consumers can now choose 200 free-to-air or paid channels, and the NCF will remain at Rs 130 (plus 18 per cent GST). If you have some paid channels in this list of 200 channels, then their additional price will be added over and above the Rs 130 amount. Remember one HD channel will be counted as 2 SD channels as always.

TRAI fixed the NCF charges at Rs 130 per month (excluding 18% GST, which brought the total to Rs 154) for all subscribers last year. But this was limited to the first 100 SD channels, which were free-to-air. What it meant was that all subscribers had a NCF charge on their bills for 100 channels of Rs 154 (including GST). So if you subscribed to just 100 SD free-to-air channels, the bill was Rs 154. This is assuming you did not have a single paid channel in the list. For an additional 25 channels, an extra NCF charge of Rs 20 was added.

Still have questions on these new DTH rules? Here’s our explainer from earlier

But with the new rules, you are getting 200 channels for Rs 130 (not including taxes). More so, TRAI has declared that “channels declared mandatory by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will not be counted in number of channels in the NCF.” This would include all Doordarshan channels, which were earlier counted against the 100 free channels in the NCF. Since they will not be counted, it frees up more slots for users in their base 200 channels.

NCF charge limited to Rs 160 for more than 200 channels

TRAI also says that all distributor of television channels shall declare network capacity fee per month, which is payable by a subscriber. This is presumably to reduce confusion in the minds of users. Further, TRAI has said that “the network capacity fee, per month, for network capacity for receiving more than two hundred SD channels, shall, in no case, exceed rupees one hundred and sixty, excluding taxes.”

So why did TRAI introduce these new rules for cable, DTH? Read this piece from TRAI chief RS Sharma

The base NCF charge cannot exceed Rs 160 for giving all the channels on their platform. With taxes it will be higher, but a limit has now been set, should you cross 200 channels.

NCF charge limit for second, third TV connection

For a second and third TV connection in a home, the NCF per month “shall, in no case, exceed forty percent of the declared network capacity fee,” according to the new rules, which will again benefit customers, especially those with multiple connections. So if there are more than two cable or DTH connections at one home under the name of one person, the NCF cannot be increased too high.

If the NCF charges on your first TV are Rs 130, the second TV’s NCF cannot be more than 40 per cent of this Rs 130. Again with taxes, the total will be higher.

TRAI Jan 2020 order: Broadcaster packs

There are major changes to broadcaster packs. These packs bundle several channels together from the broadcaster such as Star, Sony, Zee, etc. TRAI has pointed out in its observations that many broadcasters were offering packs with some of their most expensive channels, which were priced at Rs 19 bundled in these packs.

TRAI said this meant users were not going with the a-la-carte option (meaning choosing just one channel), and instead forced to go with the pack, given it appeared to provide better value. This meant often users were subscribing to channels they did not really wish to watch. So it has restricted the maximum price of a channel in a bouquet to Rs 12 from Rs 19.

So broadcasters like Star, Sony, Zee, can no longer include their channels which have Rs 19 as price in the bouquet packs.  Some of the most expensive channels, such as Sports channels cost Rs 19.  A user will have to add some of the more popular channels in the a-la-carte option, and the bouquets won’t offer these.

TRAI Jan 2020 order: Long-term packs

TRAI has allowed DTH and cable companies to offer long term subscriptions, though they will have to declare respective network capacity fee, distributor retail price and duration of all such subscriptions. Discounts can be offered on long term subscriptions which are for six months or more.

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