New Delhi: Television households may have to pay Rs130 as monthly rental per set top box for 100 standard definition channels from 1 April 2017, if the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has its way.

In the draft telecommunication (broadcasting and cable services) (eighth) (addressable systems) tariff order, 2016, published on its website, the regulator has proposed a new tariff framework for the pricing and packaging of TV channels offered to subscribers.

According to the draft order, a total of 100 standard definition channels (one high definition channel is equal to two standard definition channels) will be offered to the subscribers at Rs130 (excluding taxes) per month, which will include the channels notified by the central government to be mandatorily provided to subscribers.

Beyond that, the channels will be available in slabs of 25 and an amount of Rs20 (excluding taxes) will be charged per slab. Broadcasters will now have to fix the maximum retail price (excluding taxes) for à la carte pay channels offered to subscribers, which vary depending on the location.

Until now, distribution platform operators (DPOs) had the upper hand in deciding the prices to be charged from subscribers. DPOs obtain the TV channels (at a negotiated price) from the broadcasters and deliver these channels to the subscribers through cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH) operators and head-end in the sky (HITS) networks.

“A need was felt to evolve a tariff structure that enables the consumers with the freedom to choose from an array of attractive and affordable a-la-carte and bundled television broadcasting services as per their preferences and paying capacity," Trai said in a statement. According to the statement, a genre-wise ceiling has also been prescribed on the channel prices barring “premium" channels, which will have no ceiling on MRP and will be offered to subscribers only on an à la carte basis. The MRP of a pay channel transmitted in high definition format cannot be more than three times the MRP of its standard definition counterpart, the order said.

A premium channel, as decided by the broadcaster, will not form a part of any bouquet in the entire value chain and can only be subscribed by paying separately, according to the order.

“While framing this draft tariff order, the emphasis of the authority is to ensure transparency, non-discrimination, consumer protection and create an enabling environment for orderly growth of the sector," Trai said.

The order is likely to take effect from 1 April 2017. The authority has invited comments from various stakeholders by 24 October and will consequently issue the final order.