Assam cable TV operators ask TRAI to reconsider new rules
GUWAHATI: Cable TV operators in Guwahati and the state have voiced their concerns about the new regulatory framework brought in by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in television viewership.
The TRAI recently sought to introduce a few regulations in the broadcast industry in order to ensure “transparency, non-discrimination, protection of consumer interest and enable orderly growth of the sector.”
The new cable TV tariff system was set to be implemented from December 29. However, TRAI has now postponed its implementation by one month in order to ensure smooth transition of customers. The rules will now be enforced from February 1, 2019.
As per the new norms, the broadcasters have been asked to fix the price of each of their channels and also to declare their maximum retail price (MRP). Further, under the new tariff system, the customers will have the liberty to choose the channels they would like to watch and will now only pay for the channels they require.
This apart there are 100 channels which are free-to-air and are to be provided compulsorily to the viewers. For these 100 channels, a total of Rs 130 plus GST will be charged. For any additional channel, the customers will have to pay extra per channel.
The regulatory authority feels that the new rules will make television viewing easier on the customer’s pocket as they will now have the liberty to curate channels according to their preference and will only pay for the selected channels.
However, on the other hand, cable television operators said that the rules will become more costly for the viewers as they will have to pay for additional channels apart from the free-to-air ones.
Negligible share in revenue will wipe us out: Cable TV operators
According to the cable TV operators, the new tariff framework will leave them a comparatively lesser share of the total revenue.
“Out of the total revenue collected, 80 percent will go to the broadcaster and out of the rest; the control room will get 20 percent while the other 20 percent will be shared by the operator,” informed Rajesh Sarma, of the Guwahati cable TV operators’ association.
He added that with merely this much share, the cable TV operators will not be able to survive.
Assam cable TV operators have demanded that the revenue sharing formula should be reviewed. They have also urged the TRAI to amend the Cable TV Act to recognize offences of broadcasters and multiple system operators as cognizable offence.
The state TV operators are also pushing for setting up of branches of TRAI and Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) in all existing high courts to enable consumers and small size operators to get benefit of the dispute resolution mechanism.
“With the new tariff rules in place, we will only be liable to get a share which will be equal to a commission. This will not be enough for us to survive and the cable operators will not be able to maintain their business,” said Sarma.
Customers unhappy with new tariff rules
G Plus spoke to a few cable TV viewers and found that a majority of them were unhappy with the proposed changes in the rules which will be implemented from February 1.
Chirag Goswami, a resident of Chandmari, said that he has recently shifted from watching television on the DTH subscription to local cable providers due to the high taxes levied by the DTH service providers and costly packages offered by them.
“I am not at all happy with the TRAI’s decision to charge us for individual channels as it will prove to be costly for the customers.”
Another cable TV subscriber said that she earlier had to pay Rs 250 for viewing unlimited channels but now the customers will have to shell out extra for getting access to the channels of their choice.