Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services Amended

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has notified amendments to the Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services. TRAI had earlier issued the ‘New Regulatory Framework’ for Broadcasting and Cable services in March 2017. However, the framework’s implementation revealed a few flaws that impacted consumers. To address those issues, TRAI notified the New Regulatory Framework 2020 in January 2020.

Immediately after new tariffs were announced, TRAI received representations from various stakeholders highlighting the difficulties likely to be faced by them in implementing new rates in the system and migrating consumers to the new tariff regime, especially due to the upward revision in the rates of pay channels and bouquets declared by broadcasters. To deliberate on the various issues related to the implementation of the New Regulatory Framework 2020 and suggest a way forward, a committee consisting of members from the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) & DTH Association was constituted under the aegis of TRAI.

The issues highlighted by the committee were taken up by the Authority, which notified the amendments to Tariff Order 2017 and Interconnection Regulations 2017. The main features of the amendments are as follows:

  • Continuance of forbearance on MRP of TV channels.
  • Only channels with an MRP of Rs. 19/- or less will be allowed to be included in a bouquet.
  • A broadcaster can offer a maximum discount of 45% while pricing its bouquet of pay channels over the sum of the MRPs of all the pay channels in that bouquet.
  • Discount offered as an incentive by a broadcaster on the maximum retail price of a pay channel shall be based on the combined subscription to that channel both in a-la-carte as well as in bouquets.

Broadcasters and distributors have been given a deadline of December 16, 2022, and January 1, 2023, respectively, to submit their RIOs in compliance with the new guidelines.