Obeying the TRAI deadline to declare pricing of pay channels for CAS areas within the maximum retail price of Rs 5, most of the broadcasters have submitted their price structure to the telecom regulator. Not surprisingly, all the channels – from news to sports – have priced their channels at the MRP ceiling of Rs 5.
The broadcasters and distributors who have reported to TRAI in this regard include STAR India Pvt Ltd, Set Discovery Pvt Ltd, ESPN Software Pvt Ltd, Raj TV Network Ltd, B4U Network Ltd, Sun TV Ltd, Udaya TV, Gemini TV Ltd, ETV, BBC World, Zee Turner Ltd. TRAI said that it had sent communications to the broadcasters who had not yet filed reports of their pricing.
Broadcasters like STAR India and ESPN are already fighting cases against the MRP ceiling declared by TRAI on August 31, 2006 at the Delhi High Court and the TDSAT.
Though all the broadcasters have stuck to the MRP ceiling, some have done so with certain conditions. STAR India, for example, while fixing individual prices for its 14 channels, including two from Neo Sports, said that the prices were being filed under protest and without prejudice to STAR India Pvt Ltd’s rights and contention raised in petitions filed by it.
South Indian channels like Sun TV, Udaya TV, and Gemini TV have declared themselves free-to-air in Chennai, whereas in other CAS areas they will be available at Rs 5 each. While ETV has kept some of its channels like ETV Oriya free-to-air, Raj TV has offered to provide three of its channels at a bouquet price of Rs 9.
TRAI had issued a tariff ceiling of Rs 5 for the pay channels in the areas where CAS is to be implemented by December 31, 2006.