New Delhi: Come September and subscribers of DTH services would be able to pick and choose the channels they want to watch but have to pay a minimum of Rs 150 per month for a bouquet of channels of their choice.
In its tariff order for 2010, broadcast regulator Trai also included provisions to protect the consumers from rise in rates, like no increase in subscription charges in the first six months of enrolling.
The rates can, however, be decreased in those six months and the consumer can opt for any other service provided by the DTH operators.
The composition of the bouquet of channels should also be the same as those for the normal cable subscribers.
“Every service provider providing broadcasting services or cable services to its subscribers using an addressable system shall offer...to its subscribers on a-la-carte basis,” the order, which will come into effect from September one, said.
As of now, pay channels on DTH are not available on a-la-carte or individual basis.
In case DTH operators or cable service providers in CAS areas are not able to offer all its pay channels to its subscribers on a-la-carte basis from September one due to technical reasons, then they will have time till January next year to upgrade their services.
With a view to provide some relief to the operators, the order has fixed Rs150 as the minimum monthly subscription that a consumer will need to shell out for any number of channels. The channels of Doordarshan should be a compulsory part of each bouquet, it said.
Trai, however, refrained from fixing the retail tariff for the pay channels. “As the market forces appear to be operating effectively, the authority is of the view that there is no need for regulatory intervention in the matter of retail tariff fixation at present”.
However, the order said the fees that a operator has to pay to broadcasters for a channel should not be more than 35% of that being paid by a normal cable operator.
The broadcaster, the regulating body said, should specify a minimum subscription period not exceeding three months for a subscriber.
Trai further said that replacement of the consumer’s
faulty equipment like set-top boxes and dish antennas and their repair should be done without any payment.
The recommendations said that the broadcaster has to report the rate of individual channel and bouquets of channels on its website. It should also publish such rates on its website.
Any change in prices shall be reported to the authority 30 days in advance and any new pay channel has to be notified 30 days in advance on the broadcaster’s website as well as to the authorities.
Any broadcaster of a free to air channel intending to convert the channel into a pay channel or vice-versa shall, at least one month before the scheduled date of conversion, inform the authority about the intended conversion and give a public notice about the intended conversion.
The information about the intended conversion should also be published in at least two newspapers of which one should be a national newspaper and one in the same language as the channel.
The notification comes a day after Trai had submitted an affidavit before the Supreme Court informing about its plans to cap the monthly cable charges at Rs250 across the country, except for pockets where conditional access system (CAS) has been implemented.