TRAI acknowledges mess – up on new pricing scheme

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Representational image of Dish TV service providers

The new Television pricing scheme for viewers brought in by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from February 1, 2019 has upset the consumers across the nation, as the subscribers now end up paying more for what has been served to them earlier even though it was actually expected that the monthly spending will be reduced. TRAI Chairman Ram Sevak Sharma acknowledging the mess-up stated that the Crisil report was prepared on an inadequate understanding of the TV distribution market and it was incorrect.

Throwing more light into the inadequate understanding of the TV distribution market, TRAI Secretary S.K. Gupta explained that the Crisil report is based on choosing top-rated channels on all-India basis and considers only one weekly report dated January 25, 2019, from TV Rating Agency, BARC. He assured that hopefully in three months, prices of various channels are expected to go down.

While those who were paying a small sum for a bouquet of channels so far say their bills are likely to increase, those who opted for premium packages offered by Direct-to-home (DTH) service providers say their monthly spend will reduce.

For customers of local cable operators, the new rule is a disadvantage. Under the new pricing system, coupled with 18 percent of GST, which allows for total customization, users will have to shell out more money to watch their preferred channels because of an added expense of paying for a base pack.

The Crisil report had further stated that the Network Capacity Fee and channel prices announced by the broadcasters and DTH companies could spike up the monthly TV bills for subscribers but TRAI has said that as per the regulations, service providers even waive off or give discounts to consumers on the network capacity fee.

According to the President of Cable TV Operators Association, Patrick Raju, the new rule is a ‘scam’ to make money from the people by increasing the rates.

Now the point to ponder is that, like the India’s National Broadcaster and also the premier Public Service Broadcaster, All India Radio (AIR) has been serving to inform, educate and entertain the masses, it may be reminded that AIR, officially known since 1956 as Akasha Vani (Voice from the Sky) is the national public radio broadcaster of India and is a division of Prasar Bharati. It was established in 1930. It is the sister service of Prasar Bharati’s Doordarshan, an Indian television broadcaster. Headquartered in the Akashvani Bhavan building in New Delhi, it houses the Drama Section, the FM Section, the National Service, and is also home to the Indian television station Doordarshan Kendra, (Delhi), it has changed the subscriptions patterns of Broadcasting, where in the past re – charge of subscription to AIR was needed while now it is free.

The Television Broadcasting, particularly the Doordarshan Kendra, as National telecast was introduced in 1982. In the same year, color television was introduced in the Indian market which brought about a revolution of Audio- Visual in India through some of the epic telecast like the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Hum Log or the Buniyaad has change the concept of the sitting room through television viewing as time of a family assembling. It has also led to what has come to be known as couch-potatoes.

The private players were allowed to air their programme, then known as Cable TV and this was started from Mumbai in 1984. Cable TV in India is regulated by the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act, 1995, regarding their programs and advertisements. More players jumped into the bandwagon, leading to Target Rating Point (TRP) for calculation purposes as a device attached to the TV set in a few thousand viewers’ houses for judging purposes. This is the same practice on which the TRAI Chairman stated that the Crisil report was prepared on an inadequate understanding of the TV distribution market and it was incorrect only exposed the motivated rating. The worst affected are the present viewers, who have to pay due to the effects of unreliable judgement.

It is time TRAI reviews the charges of the new Television pricing scheme for the viewers, or general masses or the Cable TV Operators across India should file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to review the tariff. Until such a time, the status quo ante as pre- February 1, 2019 should be maintained as the general masses are being looted due to the faulty report of Crisil as it is incorrect to make the masses bear effects of this blunder.