Special Correspondent

Subscribers will have to pay Rs. 77 a month for 30 free-to-air channels

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday issued a revised tariff scheme for satellite channels with an overall ceiling for cable television services in areas that have not been brought under the Conditional Access System (CAS).

It will be applicable from December 1 and the country has been divided into three categories for fixing tariffs. All non-CAS subscribers will have to pay Rs. 77 a month for a minimum of 30 free-to-air channels.

The upper limit for a minimum of 30 FTAs and more than 45 pay channels is Rs. 260 in Class ‘A-1’ & ‘A’ cities, Rs. 220 in Class ‘B-1’ and ‘B-2’ cities, and Rs. 200 in other areas. In between, there are three other tariff slabs for a varying number of channels. These tariffs will apply only to ordinary subscribers, hotels and other commercial establishments will have to continue paying as per the earlier tariff order of TRAI.

According to the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eighth Amendment) Order, 2007, broadcasters will have to provide all channels on a la carte basis with stand-alone rates to the cable operators. While bouquets of channels can also be offered, the TRAI has sought to prevent “perverse pricing of bouquets” and laid down parameters to ensure that a la carte choice is effective. The sum of a la carte rates cannot exceed 1.5 times the bouquet rate. Also, the a la carte rate of each channel cannot be more than three times the average rate of the pay channel in the bouquet.