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Trai directs DTH, cable operators to comply with new tariff order

  • Consumers can now choose the TV channels they want and pay only for them at maximum retail prices (MRPs) set by broadcasters
  • Subscribers who had taken long-term packs prior to the new regulation coming into effect will continue to get the services for the contracted period

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has pulled up four direct-to-home and cable operators for not complying with the rules of the new tariff order that came into place earlier this year. According to the new tariff regime proposed by the regulator, consumers can choose the TV channels they want and pay only for them at maximum retail prices (MRPs) set by broadcasters as opposed to the bouquets offered earlier.

In a circular dated 1 May, the regulator asked DTH operators Tata Sky, Dish TV and Direct Sun TV and cable operator Independent TV to ensure smooth transition to the new packs by consumers, especially where long-term subscriptions were concerned.

“In case the broadcasting services related to television have been availed by a subscriber with a lock-in period or the charges for subscription of broadcasting services related to television are paid in advance for a specific period by a subscriber in pursuance of any scheme offered by the distributor of television channels, the distributor shall continue to provide such services for such period to the subscriber without any increase in the price of subscription and without altering the other terms of subscription to the disadvantage of the subscriber," according to the order.

Subscribers who had taken long-term packs prior to the new regulation coming into effect will continue to get the services for the contracted period without any change in terms and conditions if they so desire, the regulator clarified. They, however, have the freedom to choose the channels of their choice if they exercise this option. Money for the remaining period, in that case, shall be adjusted against the channels selected by the subscribers.

It has been brought to Trai's notice, through various complaints from consumers that DTH operators have migrated the long-term pack subscribers to the Best Fit Plan available on their platforms, according to the statement. The regulator has clarified that DTH operators are bound to provide services to long-term plan subscribers (including multi-TV subscribers) till the contracted period without any change unless the subscriber opts out of it or the validity of the long-term plan expires, whichever is earlier.

Trai has also emphasised that every distributor has to offer all channels available on its network to all subscribers on a-la-carte basis and declare distributor retail price per month, of each pay channel payable by a subscriber.

“Provided that the distributor retail price, per month, payable by a subscriber to a distributor of television channels for subscribing to a pay channel shall, in no case, exceed the maximum retail price, per month, declared by the broadcasters for such pay channel," Trai said in the statement.

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