Trai should let go of policy flip-flop on satellite TV, allowing the market to decide

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Published: August 29, 2019 12:57:27 AM

Trai wants broadcasters to bundle channels of similar pricing, and take expensive and niche categories out.

Trai, satellite TV broadcasting, TV subscription prices, DD channels, non DD channels, OTT platforms, GEC channelsTrai wants broadcasters to bundle channels of similar pricing, and take expensive and niche categories out.

Trai may have had the best of intent when it forced satellite TV broadcasting to shift from being a pure bundling space to being an a la carte & bouquet space. Instead of TV subscription prices coming down, the consumer is experiencing lots of confusion and an increased price burden. For a basic network capacity fee of Rs 130, the consumer was supposed to get 75 non-DD channels of her choice and 25 DD channels. But, picking from the mix of pay channels under February’s New Tariff Order has meant a larger draw from the purse because broadcasters have priced individual channels at high levels. In combination with the myriad and complex offerings of bouquets, this has ensured the consumer chooses a package recommended to her than “exercising choice”. The regulator, recently, floated another consultation paper, to discuss discounting on the bouquet offerings.

Trai wants broadcasters to bundle channels of similar pricing, and take expensive and niche categories out. As most GEC channels are expensive, this would escalate costs. Moreover, even if the broadcasters were offering niche channels, this was being done at a discounted rate. Besides, why does Trai need to control pricing in a market that has many players? After all, in telecom, it was not Trai but competition that forced prices to come down, and operators to settle at limited plans. With OTT platforms gaining market, broadcasters and distribution platforms have no choice but to reduce prices. Trai’s purpose would have been fulfilled anyhow.

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