A few weeks ago in this very column I talked about TRAI’s latest tariff order. So after putting a stay on the order for a month, the nee deadline has been given as 31st January 2019. So from February 1, the new order will come into rule.

What this order has basically done is, it has set one, singular price for all the video services, be it DTH, CAS or anything else. These standard prices were to be set by the broadcasters for their various channels with the maximum price of a channel being INR 19, be it SD/HD.

Now in a way this is a good thing that has been done. A maximum price for any channel has been set. Earlier as well there used to be this A-La-Carte scheme, where you choose the channel you want and just pay for that. But the problem then was that the prices for the channels weren’t controlled and were exorbitant. Yes INR 50 for one channel seems negligible but when you add the prices of 30 channels you want, the total went on to being unreasonably high and hence, the companies like Tata Sky, Hathway, etc used to sell their packages which were reasonable.

As mentioned in the column not long ago, the monies one has to pay now with this new rule is either going to be more than what they are paying or in a way similar to what they are paying and certainly not 250-300 as TRAI are claiming out to be. Maybe if you watch 4-5 channels, your billed by that, but if you watch more channels then it is highly unlikely.

Now the biggest opposition to this order is coming from the cable operators and in a way rightly so. What they are demanding is TRAI re look into the revenue share distribution. This is because 80% of the money you pay for the channels/packages will be going to the respective broadcasters.

To put it into perspective, out of the 167 million paying subscribers in India, about 50 million at least subscribe to Star Plus, which costs INR 19. So their revenue per month JUST for that single channel is going to be INR 76,00,00,000, that excluding the revenue they get from the advertisement. Star has a total of more than 50 HD and SD channels. Zee has above 80 channels.

Makes you wonder, has TRAI done this for the benefit of the masses or the broadcasters?

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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