The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has came out with a draft tariff amendment order notification for basic service tier rates for CAS areas, under which it has proposed to fix the maximum amount chargeable by a cable operator for free-to-air channels at Rs 77 exclusive of taxes.
“The maximum amount that a cable operator may demand from a subscriber for receiving the programmes transmitted in the ‘basic service tier’ provided by such cable operator shall not exceed Rs 77 per month exclusive of taxes, for a minimum of 30 free-to-air channels. Free-to-air channels, over and above the basic service tier, would also be made available to subscribers within the maximum amount mentioned above,” TRAI said in a statement.
The Government had in 2003 fixed a ceiling rate of Rs 72 per month per subscriber for the basic service tier under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. TRAI had fixed a general ceiling on the charges payable by subscribers to cable operators, cable operators to multi system operators / broadcasters and multi system operators to broadcasters through out the country, both in respect of free-to-air and pay channels, at the levels prevalent as on December 26, 2003.
By a subsequent amendment to the Tariff Order dated December 1, 2004, TRAI allowed an increase of 7 per cent in order to make adjustments for inflation, with effect from January 1, 2005. A subsequent increase of 4 per cent on account of inflation was allowed by TRAI by a tariff amendment order dated November 29, 2005 with effect from January 1, 2006, but this increase has been stayed by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appelate Tribunal (TDSAT).
The Delhi High Court recently directed the Government to implement CAS in notified areas of the three metros before December 31, 2006.