Telecom regulator TRAI has finally come out with an order on tariffs order for notified areas where CAS is to be implemented by December 31, 2006. TRAI order has stipulated that the ceiling on the MRP of any pay channel, whether new or existing, will be Rs 5 per channel per month, excluding taxes.
Broadcasters are free to fix prices of individual pay channels within this ceiling. Service providers could also offer bouquets with discounts in addition to the ala carte offer. However, a subscriber has to subscribe to a pay channel for a minimum period of four months. This provision has been made to safeguard the interest of the broadcasters.
A broadcaster has to give a minimum notification of one month before conversion of a free-to-air channel into a pay channel. This will come into effect from December 31, 2006 by which CAS has to be implemented in the notified areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
Regarding free-to-air channels, TRAI has stuck to its earlier decision that the maximum amount that can be charged is Rs 77 per month with a stipulation for a minimum of 30 free-to-air channels. Additional free-to-air channels can be accommodated within this maximum amount.
Service providers have to follow two schemes for providing set-top boxes. One scheme offers set-top boxes at a monthly rental of Rs 30 per digital STB plus a refundable deposit of Rs 999 per box (refund will be made after deducting Rs 12.50 per month for use of the STB). The second scheme involves a monthly rental of Rs 45 per digital STB (Rs 23 for analogue STB) with a refundable deposit of Rs 250 per box. However, operators can offer alternative tariff packages in addition to the mandated standard tariff package.
The operator has to bear the maintenance cost of the set-top box for five years. There will be no separate charges for installation, activation or reactivation of the STB.