:New TRAI tariff order: What will your TV bill look like now?
Guest Column: Advocates Ritwika Nanda & Pooja Chandran Nambiar explain the dynamics of the new tariff order
An empirical study on television screening recently revealed that the Indian audience tends to watch not more than 30 channels routinely, from the broad array of channels that are waiting to be watched.
Relying upon this information, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a New Tariff Order (NTO), with an eye to allow the viewers to handpick the channels they want to watch instead of renting bulk channel packages/bouquets provided by their cable operators.
Under the NTO, DTH providers can only charge subscribers a maximum of INR 130, excluding the applicable GST, for a set of 100 channels, while letting the customers to further opt and pay for the channels of their liking, separately. Although at first sight, the NTO – which came into effect on February 1 – seems to protect the viewers’ wishes and wallets, it may prove to be a double-edged sword. The NTO only seems to benefit the consumers who fancy a particular profile of channels and might not prove to be effective in a set-up of multiple viewers, such as families.
Additionally, whether the set of 100 base channels includes the most popular channels remains largely unknown. By the same token, encouraging the concept of ‘pay less for less, more for more’ might render the customers to pay almost the same, if not more than the current pricing, and that too, for a much lesser number of channels.
At the other end of the coin flip, the NTO would also pinch the revenue of the cable operators, DTH operators, distributors as well as broadcasters, while raising fresh concerns over unpopular channels getting unsubscribed.
In an age of affordable consumerism, whether the NTO would incur losses or save expenses of the Indian audience now remains a waiting game.
(The authors are advocates with Trust Legal Advocates & Consultants)
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