TRAI Says 25 Million DTH and 65 Million Cable TV Subscribers Have Switched to New Tariff Plans
Ever since TRAI’s new tariff guidelines for cable TV and direct to home (DTH) connections became applicable starting this month, it has been a slightly complex time for consumers and service providers alike, to make the switch to the new tariffs if they already hadn’t. As things stand, now 90 million television subscribers in India have made the switch to the new tariff plans, for their cable TV and DTH connections—this includes 65 million cable TV subscribers and 25 million subscribers who use DTH connections at their homes. The new tariff regime was implemented with the intention to reduce the subscription bills for TV subscribers in the country, though the benefits are still being debated.
“Out of the total 170 Million TV homes (which includes 70 Million DTH homes and 100 Million cable TV homes), about 90 Million homes have already registered their choice with the operators, which is a big number,” said RS Sharma, chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, in an interview to PTI. “The speed (of onboarding) has increased as per our data and we expect the rest of the people to also register their choice of channels soon,” he added. Sharma.
It has not been a smooth rollout of the new tariff plans thus far, with a lot of blanks being filled as time goes on. Ever since the 1 February deadline, TRAI has had to clarify the guidelines on multiple issues, including the network capacity fees (NCF) as well as how the subscriptions of users who have already paid for long duration packs will be handled. TRAI also issued a notice to Airtel to explain why the Digital TV DTH subscribers faced disruptions while switching to the new tariff plans.
Earlier this month, a report by research firm Crisil suggested that the new tariff plans have had the opposite effect of the intention, and actually made TV subscriptions more expensive instead. “"The network capacity fee (NCF) and channel prices announced by broadcasters and distributors as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)'s new guidelines could increase the monthly bill of most subscribers of television channels," the research report said, before adding, “Our analysis of the impact of the regulations indicates a varied impact on monthly TV bills. Based on current pricing, the monthly TV bill can go up by 25 per cent from Rs 230-240 to Rs 300 per month for viewers who opt for the top 10 channels but will come down for those who opt up to top five channels.” TRAI had refuted the report, stating, “In three months, we expect prices of various channels to go down.”