The broadcast details and rates of all free-to-air channels, premium channels, MRP of pay and premium channels and other pay channels are to be submitted by March 1, 2017 as stipulated by TRAI – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India as per the draft tariff order issued.

The Telecommunication Tariff Order 2016 pertaining to the Broadcasting and Cable Services will be enforced to be effective from April 1, 2017. This order is applicable to Television Broadcasting and Cable Services provided to subscribers through Addressable Systems. Broadcasters are directed to provide names, channel genre, language and relevant geographical area of all FTA channels including that of each pay and premium channel they offer under their roof.

The disclosure should be made in accordance with the clear regulations set by the Authority with all the details with regard to the broadcast category – if the pay channels are pay channels in the whole country or in only in some parts. Since TRAI is flexible in certain aspects like fixation of different MRP’s for different geographical areas within the genre ceiling by the television channel broadcasters. Broadcasters are also directed to provide advertisement revenue details to TRAI for each financial year within 90 days from the end of the financial year. In addition, the details of introduction, conversion, discontinuation, or change of channel or bouquet 90 days prior to such change are required to be provided by the broadcasters.

The new tariff order insists that the television channel operators must declare the MRP of channels to the consumers. The tariff order will be effective from April 1, 2017. In response to the Authority’s call for comments from stake holders on the draft tariff, the communication seems to be flooding with views, the output of which is yet to be seen.  The MRP of channels will be subjected to genre-wise price caps as prescribed by TRAI, as cited before a fortnight. As per the genre caps prescribed by TRAI, Sports Channels hold the highest MRP cap at Rs. 19, General Entertainment Channels at Rs. 12, Movie Channels at Rs. 10, Infotainment channels at Rs. 9, Kids channel at Rs. 7, News channels at Rs. 5, and Devotional channels at Rs. 3 and the broadcasters are directed to publish the MRP of their pay channels on their websites, report to TRAI and also inform all the distributors of the television channels.  The MRP should be visible to all the customers in the electronic programme guide.

Broadcasters can offer channels on ‘a la carte’ basis or in the form of bouquets and declare the MRP, excluding taxes. The MRP of bouquets should not be less than 85percent of the sum of MRP of the ‘a la carte’ pay channels forming part of the bouquet.  According to TRAI, there are presently 48 broadcasters providing 275 pay channels but there is no effective competition between them.

TRAI has prescribed a price cap for HD channels which should not exceed 3 times than that of corresponding SD channels.  The formula has been derived from the fact that one HD channel occupies the bandwidth of 2 to 3 SD channels.

TRAI’s stipulations on commercial aspects left the cloned channels unmarked. However, a cloned channel should not be bundled with the original channel in the same bouquet. The consumers should have the option to select their preferred language and package of channels. – TV News