The Telecom Regulation Authority of India's new regulations on paid and free-to-air channels will come into effect at midnight on December 28. From December 29, viewers will be able to choose what they want to pay for and will not have to subscribe to channels they never watch.
As of now, Multiple System Operators or MSOs offer a bundled package of channels. The MSOs such as Tata Sky or DishTV, Airtel, Hathway etc choose random channels into a package, and offer it to consumers. But after December 29, the consumers will have to choose individual channels, which they want to see.
But the new regulations have created confusion among the users. To clear the confusion, India TV brings you an exclusive interview with TRAI secretary SK Gupta:
Ques: What exactly will happen on December 29?
Ans: First of all I want to make it clear that your channels will not go off-air on December 29, nothing of this sort will happen. The main purpose of our new regulations is that the consumers get the channels they want to watch and not 200-300 channels.
One thing that new regulation includes is that channels will display the cost of the individual channels, even it is free. So that the consumers are aware of what they are paying for.
Secondly, we have made it mandatory for the cable and MOS operators to keep the channels of the same genres together so that it is easier for consumers to select.
Next, we have ensured that channels cannot be switched to different numbers suddenly.
Your TV channels will not go off-air on December 29. We are making a framework under which your cable operator will give you options, you will select the channels you want to watch and only those channels will be provided to you.
But it will be an organised period. After this specified time, the channels you have not subscribed to will go off air.
Ques: Will the new regulation make TV cheaper or costlier?
Ans: TV watching will becomes cheaper under new regulations because you will only pay for what you consume. Your final bill will be less than current bill.
Ques: Why will it be cheaper for consumers to pick individual channels over pre-packed bouquets?
Ans: Consumers should understand that bouquets usually seem cheaper because the broadcasters try to push the channels people do not want to watch as a package deal. Individually, consumers may not want to pay for them.
Ques: Will my TV go off-air on December 29? (Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: There is a proper framework which will allow users to choose channels in a stipulated time. TV channels will not go off-air on December 28 or 29. But make sure you choose your channels within given time frame and inform your cable or MSO operator about the same.
Ques: My cable operator says new regulations will make charges steeper, is this true? (Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: If you wish to continue receiving all 300 channels you get today, then your cable operator is right. But no one watches all 300 channels. BARC data we receive says that more than 50 per cent people watch less than 30 channels, which include Free-To-Air channels. If you choose channels you want to watch then it will be cheaper for you.
Ques: There are rumours that after Dec 29 regulations, cable operators will not maintain the set up boxes. Consumers will have to either get them fixed or purchase new ones? (Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: What you have heard is exact opposite of the new regulations. Currently, cable operators charge arbitrary installation charges, the new framework has fixed Rs 350 as the maximum cost of set up box installation.
Ques: What is difference between free channel and pay channel?
Ans: The cost of the channel is decided by the broadcaster. If it says the channel is to be given away for free, it's Free-To-Air, but if it sets a certain cost it is categorised as pay channel. The cost of the channel is set by the broadcaster. But if the cost of the channel is above Rs 19, then it cannot be clubbed in a bouquet without informing the consumer.
Ques: Does the consumer have the choice to buy individual channels or will they have to buy bouquets on offer?
Ans: Under the current framework, the consumer has the freedom to choose channels a-la-carte, or any bouquets being offered by the broadcasters or one being offered by DTH, MSO or cable operator, or the combination of the above.
Ques: Are 100 FTA channels available at Rs 130?
Ans: Rs 130 is the static cost of a cable connection. Just like we paid a set bill for telephone, irrespective of the use, here consumers shall pay Rs 130 as the constant charges for TV connection. 100 channels are free with the connection. Paid channels will be charges as per their individual costs.
Ques: What are the provisions to suspend the connection for short duration? (Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: If the consumer wants to suspend the connection for up to three months then they will need to pay only Rs 25 for restarting the connection, if the duration is longer than that then they can start the connection by paying only Rs 100. No need to repay the installation charges, or monthly cost of connection in between.
Ques: Will TRAI have objection if the DTH company wants to reduce the minimum package than Rs 130? (Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: Rs 130 is the maximum constant charge, if they want to charge less than that then there is no objection.
Ques: The number of paid channels have been increasing causing a stress of rural TV viewers Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: There are around 500 FTA channels, which incudes channels from all genres. Consumers can choose 100 free channels they want to watch.
Ques: Do we have to buy two connections for two TVs? Asked by a member of audience)
Ans: Two TVs mean two set up box and require two separate connections for pay channels. But the local service provider may choose to provide discount on the second connection in the same home on the network distribution fee (Rs 130).
Ques: How can we complain against the DTH operator?
Ans: Every service provider will have to give a toll-free number for complains. If you complain, the company will have to settle it in 72 hours. If the company does not resolve your complaint, you can complain with the nodal officer, who has to settle it within 7 days. If the problem still does not get resolved, then contact TRAI.
Note: India TV News is a Free-To-Air channel and will continue to available to users without any additional cost before and after December 29