Rs 5 cap on pay channels

New Delhi, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
The maximum retail price for every pay channel is likely to be capped at between Rs 3-5 when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) announces the pricing on Thursday. All pay channels movie, sports or entertainmentwould be priced alike, sources said. However, Trai will not intervene in bouquet pricing.

Cable operators will have to carry a minimum package of 30 free-to-air channels at Rs 77. As a result, monthly cable bills in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata will crash from an average of Rs 200 a month now to under Rs 120, effective January 1, 2007. But cable operators are likely to oppose the Trai directive.

A set-top box (STB) will be available on a monthly rent of Rs 30, with a refundable deposit of Rs 999 under a standard package. But, multi-system operators will have the liberty to provide other packages as well so that subscribers have a choice.

To arrive at the MRP of pay channels, Trai has taken into consideration the recent order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) in the STAR TV-Zee case on the direct-to-home TV pricing. TDSAT asked STAR to provide its 14 channels to Dish TV at Rs 27. We have taken this pricing as a benchmark to set the ceiling price for pay channels, sources said.

CAS is a technology platform that will allow consumers to pay only for channels they want to watch.