The status quo Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 50 years.
In the draft order, TRAI had said that distributors of TV channels could form bouquets only from a la carte channels of broadcasters. However, the retail price of such a bouquet of pay channels could not be less than 85 percent of the sum of MRP of a la carte channels forming part of the bouquet.
Bbc india business report podcast to BloombergQuint, the regulator had also said that distributors of TV channels had to offer at least one bouquet, referred to as a basic tier, of free to air channels including all the channels which have to be mandatorily shown to viewers as per the government norms.
Among other suggestions was that a subscriber may request for additional network capacity in bundles or lots of 25 SD or Standard-definition television channels at a rate of Rs 20 per month for subscribing to more than channels. This accounted for additional bandwidth cost by distributors of television channels, TRAI had said.
Stakeholders were also asked to suggest whether the option of pay-per-view PPV be made available to the subscribers and if so, whether the tariff of such viewing be regulated. Disconnect between TRAI and stakeholders The response to the suggestions was lukewarm with most of the stakeholders, including broadcasters and distributors of television channels not in favour of pay-per-view option.
We quote, "Up until now, distribution platform owners like DTH operators and cable networks had an upper hand in deciding the prices of the channels.
As has been reported repeatedly, apart from DTH platforms, the order had also evoked dismay from television broadcasters and broadcasting associations. Star India and its subsidiary, Vijay Television, had also filed a petition in the Madras High Court on the grounds that the tariff regulations stood in conflict with the Copyright Act, And to repeat the sequence of events, subsequently, the tariff order was stayed by the Supreme Court in May, this year.
We quote Mint again, "Earlier the tariffs were more of an understanding based on negotiations between the distribution platform owners DPOs like cable networks and direct-to-home operators and television broadcasters.
Now, broadcasters will declare rates to the customers. Earlier, there was no relationship between the rates the channels negotiated with the DPO and those that reached the consumers. The customers were never clear about what they were paying for which channels.
With the new tariff order, consumers will know the difference between a free-to-air and a pay-TV channel. We quote again, "Another good point is that premium channels -- defined as anything that is priced above Rs19 -- cannot be bundled. They can only be sold a la carte.
Similarly, a channel in standard definition and high definition cannot be clubbed in the same bouquet as currently both of them carry the same content. Importantly, all channels will be priced the same everywhere. So Sun TV in the north cannot be priced higher or lower than in the south.
The belief is that the customer is the same everywhere. Besides, there will not be any difference in prices for different operators either -- the price of the channels will be the same for cable, DTH or any other distribution platform owner.
Mint wrote, "Advertising is still their dominant revenue source. If the reach of some of their channels decline, it may affect their advertising revenue. So, broadcasters need to protect their bouquets. There is also a possibility that people at the lower income levels, who were low average revenue per user ARPU customers, may switch to Free Dish, the free-to-air DTH platform of Doordarshan, shunning cable networks, and private DTH firms as well as pay channels.
According to the new tariff order, broadcasters were required to declare the maximum retail price MRP and nature of all the channels within 60 days. Additionally, distribution platform operators were mandated to declare network capacity fee and distribution retail price DRP within days.
How will this impact the broadcast industry? To answer that, we will quote Business Standard, "The move has far-reaching implications for the broadcast industry, since the debate about whether the TRAI Act of superseded the Copyright Act of is now settled, said legal experts tracking the case.
Broadcasters in India have used the Copyright Act,to argue their point that content televised on their channels should be monitored and priced by them. The TRAI Act ofon the other hand, gives this power to the regulator following an amendment inwhich brought broadcasters under its purview.
It is only now though that TRAI is enforcing its powers, experts said. The argument now shifts to the Delhi High Court, where direct-to-home DTH operators have challenged the order on the basis that the framework or mechanism laid out by TRAI, to package channels and their overall pricing, is not sustainable.
DTH players have also been asked to provide proper timelines to consumers in the event of a complaint. The report quotes, Kunal Tandon, an independent lawyer and legal expert who says, "In a sense, the battle now shifts from a broadcaster-centric issue to a DTH-centric one, even though Discovery Networks which runs the Discovery channel has also challenged the regulation and tariff order in court.
While broadcasters can only enforce their RIOs once DTH operators and MSOs have agreed to its terms, the latter too will have to come out with RIOs in the event of a new channel or channels being added by broadcasters, indicating how they will package it within the existing bouquet.
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