TRAI fixes maximum retail price for a channel at Rs. 5 a month
Broadcasters have to offer pay channels on an a la carte basisMaximum price of FTA for 30 channels fixed at Rs. 77 plus taxesTwo compulsory schemes for set-top boxes also announced
NEW DELHI: The maximum retail price of pay channels has been fixed at Rs. 5 a channel every month by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in the three metropolises where the Conditional Access System (CAS) is due to roll out from January 2007. This rate along with applicable taxes will also apply to Chennai, which has had CAS for the last couple of years.
In its tariff order for free-to-air (FTA) channels in basic service tier, pay channel and set-top box (STB) schemes issued on Thursday, the TRAI made it mandatory for all broadcasters to offer pay channels on an a la carte basis. While channels can be bundled and offered as bouquets with discounts, every channel has to be on offer on a stand-alone basis also.
Broadcasters have to give a month's notice to subscribers before converting a FTA to pay mode or vice versa and the minimum period of subscription to a pay channel has to be at least four months. The maximum price of FTA for a minimum of 30 such channels has been fixed at Rs. 77 plus taxes. Furthermore, should any service provider want to provide more FTAs to attract subscribers, no additional amount can be charged.
As for STBs, which are needed to view pay channels, two schemes have to be compulsorily provided as part of the standard tariff package. One scheme entails a monthly rental of Rs. 30 per digital STB plus a refundable deposit of Rs. 999 a box.
The refund will be made after deducting Rs. 12.50 every month for the use of the STB. The second scheme envisages a monthly rental of Rs. 45 a digital STB with a refundable deposit of Rs. 250 for every box. In the case of an analogue STB, the monthly rental is Rs. 23. Here the refund will be made after deducting Rs. 3 a month.
Operators can offer alternative tariff packages, but cannot charge separately for installation, activation or reactivation. Supply of STBs will begin from October 15 in anticipation of the CAS rollout on January 1, 2007.