Broadcasters wary of TRAI decision on review pricing

New Delhi, August 20 (IANS): Broadcasters have raised concerns over the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indias (TRAI) decision to review the issue of pricing, barely eight months after implementing the new tariff order.


They fear that the intrusive approach by the regulator will only discourage and disincentivise fresh investments into the sector, which can have dire consequences.


Smaller channels and networks may even face an "existential crisis" in case TRAI implements a fresh pricing model.


TRAI, which noted that the broadcasters have been offering discounts of up to 70 per cent for bouquets compared to a la carte rates causing discrepancies for consumers, has come out with a fresh consultation paper to look into the issue of pricing of channels by broadcasters, cable operators and distribution platforms.


However, analysts said that the consultation paper 'Tariff-related issues for broadcasting and cable services' relating to the new tariff order (NTO), which came into force from February 1, did not take into account that consumers across the world opt for bouquets rather than individual channels as the former are cheaper.


Bouquets also provide an opportunity to broadcasters to introduce new channels with differentiated content at affordable rate. Broadcasters fear that if the pricing is revised, the channels may lose the power to re-invest in premium content, especially in the wake of tough competition from video streaming services.


Analysts and broadcasters have also stressed that broadcasting cannot be counted as an essential service and those who cannot afford premium TV have the affordable options of viewing Doordarshan and FreeDish.


Besides, there will be backlash from the consumer as she is spoilt for choice with a plethora of channels as the number of channels may get reduced while the subscription cost may go up. The earlier regime allowed both the broadcasters and DPOs to distribute umpteen number of channels within a slab of 150-250.