Cable charge to be capped at 250

The Trai move may benefit millions of television  viewers.

Trai has filed an application before the apex court seeking its permission to notify proposed Broadcasting and Cable Services Tariff Order, 2010.

Broadcasters including Sony Group, Star India, Zee Turner and multi-system operators (MSOs) have opposed Trai’s proposal before the Supreme Court and were asked to file their affidavits last year.

Filing a draft regulation before the apex court on July 22, 2010, Trai proposed to cap the monthly charges at Rs 250 across the country, except for pockets where conditional access system (CAS) was implemented.

In an affidavit to the court, Trai proposed to divide cable services into three pricing slabs.
The first one was to have a monthly charge of Rs 100 for a minimum of 30 free-to-air (FTA) channels, including the mandatory Doordarshan channels.

For the second basic package (which includes Doordarshan channels) that would include up to 20 pay channels, the monthly bill was to be fixed at Rs 200.

For the basic package with more than 20 pay channels, the subscribers would have to pay Rs 250 per month.

Earlier, there were no limits on the number of FTA channels, but the monthly charge was fixed at Rs 83, while a maximum of Rs 260 was fixed for a basic package plus pay channels.

As per industry estimates, there are at present 300 FTAs and 125 pay channels in the country. On the issue of allowing multi-system operators (MSOs) and cable operators to choose channels from broadcasters on a-la-carte basis, Trai said it would not be possible in non- CAS regulated areas, where feeds were still given in the analog mode.

As far as the carriage fees charged by MSOs and local cable operators from broadcasters for airing their channels on their networks, Trai said it was not feasible to place any cap on carriage and placement fees and it should be left to the players.

Trai ’s affidavit came after the apex court had directed it to formulate a comprehensive pricing mechanism after consulting various stakeholders.

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