Trai fixes rates for cable TV channels in non-CAS areas

Trai fixes rates for cable TV channels in non-CAS areas

New Delhi: Telecom and broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday, fixes the prices for cable television channels in areas where conditional access system (CAS) has not been implemented. The regulator has fixed a ceiling of Rs77 for all free-to-air (FTA) channels and a price range of Rs160-260 for varying bouquets of FTA and pay channels.

FTA channels are those that don’t charge a subscription, whereas for pay TV channels, subscribers have to dish out a fee. There is already a ceiling in the existence in CAS areas, including Chennai and southern parts of New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

CAS allows cable operators to provide customers with channels they want; access is through a set-top unit.

The new ruling is aimed at “enabling cable operators to choose channels in tune with the liking of their subscribers, and reduce the burden of cable charges on account of (having to pay for) unwanted channels," Trai said on Thursday.

Starting December 2007, households will have to pay Rs77 a month for a package of minimum 30 FTA channels. For pay channels, they will have to pay anywhere between Rs160 and Rs260 depending upon the area they live and the package of channels they choose. For instance, customers in A-1 and A class cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Jaipur and Ahmedabad, will have to pay a maximum of Rs260 every month for getting 30 FTA channels and more than 45 pay channels.

“The move will bring more transparency for consumers who did not know how much was being charged for each channel," said Roop Sharma, president of Cable Operators Federation of India. But despite Trai’s ruling, consumer groups are sceptical about the on-the-ground execution. “Some of these regulations are poorly enforced. Moreover, many consumers in remote towns may not get to know about their rights at all," said Bejon Mishra, a Delhi-based consumer activist and executive director of Consumer Voice.