Assam cable TV Operators unhappy with TRAI deadline

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Assam cable TV Operators unhappy with TRAI deadline

Saumya Mishra | January 27, 2019 13:29 hrs

The cable television operators of the city, as well as the state, have expressed their unhappiness over the deadline set by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for implementing the new regulatory framework brought in by the regulatory authority.

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 last; however, TRAI has now postponed its implementation by one month in order to ensure a smooth transition of customers. The rules will now be enforced from February 1.
In a recent decision, TRAI stated that the implementation of the new orders have to be completed by February 1. Further, failing to implement the rules would result in severe consequences for the distribution platform operators (DPOs) including suspension or cancellation of license and even a blackout by broadcasters. 

Talking to G Plus, secretary of Guwahati Cable TV Operators’ Association, S Bharali said, “The revenue sharing model, as per the new rules, leaves the cable TV operators with very less revenue. If the rules are implemented, we might go out of business very soon. We are therefore protesting it.”

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 a 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 compulsory 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 customers’ 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. 
We have written to TRAI as well as to the multi-sector operators (MSOs) against the new rules, said Bharali.  

“Out of the total revenue collected, 80 percent will go to the broadcaster and out of the rest, control room will get 20 percent while the other 20 percent will be shared by the operator,” said another member of the Guwahati Cable TV Operators’ Association.

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.

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