Tariff rule: TRAI gives 30 days for transition, but broadcasters all set for the show

TRAI on Thursday gave broadcasters time till February 1 for the implementation of its new tariff rule

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Dec 28, 2018 8:51 AM

Just two days before the implementation of the new tariff regime on December 29, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday gave 30 days time for transition to the new regime. This transition period will last till February 1, 2019. The decision has been taken in view of the fact that there is still a lack of awareness among consumers about the new policies. However, preparing in time, all broadcasters have already introduced their bouquet of channel packs as per the new tariff regime and launched campaigns to educate viewers about the changes. 

Star India has introduced Star Value Pack at Rs 49 in Hindi and is running a campaign with its popular faces to inform viewers about it. Viacom18 and TV18 have joined hands to address the issue of price rise as they launched their Value Pack, comprising top channels across genres at ₹1 per day. Zee too has launched its communication initiative ‘Channels Ka Chunaav 2019’. It will be offering three types of packs to cater to different viewer needs. While Prime Packs are based on core regional language consumption, Family Packs will offer top genres and All-in-One Packs will provide all genres. The Zee Family Pack is targeted at the Hindi Speaking Market (HSM) and has been priced at Rs 45 per month for 24 channels. Sony Pictures Network India has launched Happy India pack priced at Rs 31 per month for nine channels. Sony has introduced 16 bouquets, starting from Rs 31 under Sony Silver pack which will have Sab, Set Max, Max 2, Sony Yay!, Pal, Sony Wah, Mix and Sony Marathi to Rs 90 under Sony HD Platinum Pack. The platinum pack offers 18 channels.

Broadcasters are quite upbeat about the new rule and are looking forward to its implementation. 

Star India MD Sanjay Gupta believes that the biggest change that the new tariff regime will bring is transparency and power to the consumer. “Our strategy is to deliver great value to the consumers. We invest in making marquee content or great content across genres. The question we ask ourselves is how do we ensure great value for our consumers through our pricing? Star India is trying to offer great value in every geography,” he said.

Gupta said Star wants every kid in the country to have access to sports channels and so the network is providing the channels as part of its pack. “Every consumer feels that sports channels come at a higher price. Earlier, the sports pack was priced around Rs 100-200, but we want to make sure that every kid has access to sports channels in this country. All this will now come in the pack of Rs 49 in Hindi, which I think is of great value. We are trying to make the price affordable to ensure that every consumer has the access to the content,” he added. 

Talking about their Re 1 a day pack, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & Managing Director, Viacom18, said it is their attempt to make entertainment affordable for the country.
“If you thought that the one-rupee coin in your wallet has no value, think again. Viacom18 and TV18 are all set to bring your family’s daily entertainment needs for just Re 1. ‘The Colors Wala Pack’ is the most comprehensive pack and at a price point that keeps the budgetary concerns of our viewers in mind. After roti, kapda, makaan, entertainment is India’s fourth basic need, and being the country’s fastest growing network, it is our constant endeavour to keep that need affordable.”

According to Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, Zee Entertainment, the new tariff regime will not just be about pricing but also about massive behavioural change. 

“For the longest time, this has been a low-involvement category where pricing would decide the way you consume. But with TRAI’s new regulation, the power will now shift to the consumer, making it a high-involvement category. People will start evaluating what they are paying for, and why. Moreover, the level playing field that this reform will bring across operators will be a great opportunity for everyone and you will truly build your value with the services you offer and to be better in tune with your consumer,” she said. 

Negative impact on niche channels? 

Though the broadcasters have announced their new tariff packs and all of them seem positive about the move, there is a little element of uncertainty when it comes to the niche channels. It is being believed that the new rule will have a negative impact on their viewership. 

Vats, however, does not agree. “If the channel has the pull, it will pick up. And if not, then it will not be picked up,” he says.

But Karan Taurani VP- Research (Media sector) Elara Capital agrees that the viewership of niche channels could be affected. “Niche channels of large broadcasting groups, which are not included in any bouquet, will fade out in terms of viewership as consumers will not look at buying them on a la carte basis,” he said. 

“Also, SD and HD channels cannot come in the same bouquet post the order. This will negatively impact viewership as earlier both types of channels were sold together in a bouquet. This in turn means that the order is pushing for consumers moving to channels on a la carte basis,” he added.

No disruption in TV services 

On December 26, TRAI advised all broadcasters, DPOs (distribution platform operators) and LCOs (local cable operators) to ensure that no channel that has been already subscribed by a consumer is discontinued after December 29. TRAI said it has noticed that there were messages circulating in the media about a possible blackout of existing subscribed TV channels after December 29. 

“The authority is seized of the matter and hereby advises that all Broadcasters/DPOs/LCOs will ensure that any channel that a consumer is watching today is not discontinued. Hence, there will be no disruption of TV services due to implementation of the new regulatory framework. Keeping in view the interest of the subscribers and to enable a smooth transition, the authority is preparing a detailed migration plan for all the existing subscribers. The migration plan will provide ample opportunity to each and every subscriber for making an informed choice. This will also enable service providers in carrying out the various activities as stipulated in the new regulatory framework in a time-bound manner,” a statement issued by TRAI said.

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