Disney Star India and Viacom18 are expected to file their RIOs soon. TV distribution service providers fear that the price increase by the broadcasters will impact the pay-TV industry, which is facing tough competition from the DD Free Dish – Prasar Bharati’s free direct-to-home (DTH) platform – and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
“We had requested Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which also regulates this sector) that they (tariffs) should not go back to the ₹19 MRP cap, but the regulator didn’t listen to us. Trai kept telling DPOs (distribution platform operators) that broadcasters will not increase the prices,” said a senior executive at a cable TV company. “Now, Sony and Zee have hiked the MRP of many channels. The price of certain bouquets has been increased by 10-15%. In some cases, the increase is even higher.” The executive said Sony had discontinued its base bouquet priced at ₹31 and replaced it with a new bouquet which costs ₹43. ZEE has increased the MRP of its Hindi movie and regional channels, he said.
The price hike comes in the wake of the amendments notified by Trai to the regulatory framework for broadcasting services on November 22. Trai had reinstated the old MRP cap of ₹19 (from ₹12) and done away with ‘twin conditions’ in the amended framework. It said a broadcaster could offer a maximum discount of 45% on pay channel bouquets over sum of MRPs of the pay channels in that bouquet.
The regulator had introduced the twin conditions in order to link a la carte and bouquet pricing. The first condition stated that the sum of the a la carte rates of the pay channels (MRP) forming part of a bouquet shall in no case exceed one and a half times the rate of the bouquet of which such pay channels are a part. The second said the a la carte rates of each pay channel cannot be more than three times the average rate of a pay channel in the bouquet.
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