In a new development this week, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has asked cable and satellite TV providers to allow consumers to access and modify their subscription plans via Trai app. In the latest amendment to the quality of service and consumer protection regulations, TRAI mandated distribution platform operators (DPOs) to share their application programme interfaces (APIs) with it. This will basically allow the consumers to select, delete and assign channels and packs to/from their subscription from TRAI’s app or portal.
The regulator is currently in the process of finalising API specifications, which will be communicated to DPOs. The operators will have to share and exchange the information through API with Trai whenever the authority asks for the same. So this has been apparently done by TRAI in accordance with their own framework, where they want to give the consumers the freedom to choose their own channels. This is another way in which they will ensure that consumers get their freedom, because apparently consumers are complaining they aren’t getting ‘proper choice’ in choosing their own channels.
This whole new regulation has been debated for too long. It was supposed to come in to effect post Diwali last year but then somehow, TRAI half assed this regulation into force since February this year. Ever since then, I think I am talking in my column about them at least once a month. So far their regulation has been 100% trail and 100% error. Their aim was initially, consumers choose the channel they want and it will be cheaper. It turned out more expensive, especially when consumers are choosing ALL the channels from all the big broadcasters (i.e. STAR, SONY, ZEE, etc).
When they brought this new tariff regime into motion, they capped the maximum price of any channel, SD or HD at INR nineteen, AT MAX. Now a few months ago, they decided they will intervene again and reduce the cap even further, so as to it gets cheaper for the audiences because clearly, their tariff regime didn’t go as planned. So when they decided, and since I haven’t heard anything more substantial on the same since a few weeks ago, where it was just “in the news”, the idea of them doing so has died down, probably because the broadcasters shutting them down. So now that it didn’t work, they chose to turn their heads towards the people under them who they can harass easily, the DPOs and make life harder for them, even more.
Anyway, the whole point is, a wise man knows a battle lost when he sees one, and this one was lost before it even started. A year down and TRAI still trying to save their face, but all going to vain. Maybe the best thing would be to scrap the whole thing and let things go back to the way they used to be.
By – Amul Vikas Mohan