The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out and clarified that consumers have the option to choose channels on a-la-carte basis for the base pack of 100 SD channels. According to the regulator, the consumers can either choose free-to-air channels, pay channels, bouquet of pay channels or any combination thereof for the base pack. The base pack without any paid channels will cost just Rs. 130 (Rs. 153.40 after taxes). If a consumer adds any paid channels, they will have to pay the price of that channel. TRAI came out with the latest order after the reports of confusion over which channels can be included in the base pack or whether the consumers can only choose the packs being offered by the DTH and cable operators.
“Now it has been noticed that several broadcasters are advertising their channels in the form of bouquets only. However customer may note that they have option to choose channels on a-la-carte also,” TRAI said in a press release.
“The maximum retail price (MRP) of a channel on a-la-carte can be viewed in the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) or Menu of their TV screens. Distribution Platform Operator (DPO) such as cable operators, DTH operators may provide discount on the MRP displayed on the EPG,” the agency added.
TRAI noted that the consumers should choose their desired channels or packs as per the new rules before the January 31 deadline to avoid the last-minute rush. After the deadline, any consumers who have not migrated to the new packages are likely to face interruption in the services.
As we mentioned earlier, the base pack or the basic service tier as a part of the new TRAI rules has been priced at Rs. 153.40 (after taxes) for the 100 SD free-to-air channels. As per TRAI's latest clarification, the consumers are free to choose these first 100 channels from free as well as paid channels and they will not be charged any extra network capacity free as long as they don't cross the 100 mark. However, they will still have to pay the charges for the paid channels.
Apart from Tata Sky, pretty much all cable and DTH operators, including the likes of DishTV, Airtel Digital TV, and Hathaway, have declared the channel prices and bouquet details and established mechanisms to make it easier for the consumers to migrate to the new system. The best place to check the new system is either the consumer information channel on channel no 999 or the company websites.
TRAI had originally announced the new regulatory framework in March 2017 and it went into effect on December 29, 2018. However, the agency later extended the date of migration to the new framework to January 31.