TRAI has proposed to govern the commercial subscribers of TV channels in small commercial establishments under the prevailing tariff order for ordinary subscribers, whereas for hotels rated above 3-Star and other commercial establishments, agreement should be reached through mutual negotiation. The regulator has sought the comments of stakeholders in this regard by November 10.
The order for commercial subscribers for non-CAS areas retains the definition of commercial subscriber provided in the tariff amendment order of March 7, 2006. But for the purpose of regulation of tariff for pay channels, the commercial subscribers have been grouped into two categories – one category comprises hotels with ratings of 3-Star and above, heritage hotels and commercial establishments providing board and lodging and having 50 or more rooms, which may not need tariff protection.
The rest of the vast majority of commercial establishments have been grouped into the residual category that might require protection on the same lines as that of ordinary cable subscribers.
The draft order for non-CAS areas accordingly proposes that the tariff for commercial subscribers falling in the first category would be governed by the terms of mutual agreement between the parties because no tariff protection might be required for them. For the commercial subscribers falling in the residual category, the ceiling on cable charges would be the rates as prevailing on December 26, 2003, as is the case with ordinary subscribers.
A separate draft tariff amendment order for commercial subscribers in respect of CAS notified areas provides for identical categorisation. It proposes a ceiling of maximum retail price of Rs.5 per channel per month.
For commercial subscribers falling in the first category, there will be no ceiling on pay channel tariff. However, in order to ensure that the choice of individual channels is made available to these subscribers in CAS areas as well, the draft amendment order has provisions for the commercial subscribers falling in the first category in the form of mandatory offer of channels on a la carte basis with restrictions on the maximum retail prices of individual channel in relation to the prices of bouquets. The tariff for supply of set top boxes is also proposed to be regulated on similar lines.