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How to reduce your TV bill on Airtel DTH, Tata Sky, Dish TV, cable operators after new TRAI order
Live Mint, January 15, 2019

New Delhi: Following implementation of new regulations imposed on DTH service providers and cable operators by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), you can now reduce your monthly TV bill by limiting your subscription to only those TV channels you watch. Consumers have been given time till the end of this month to make a choice for uninterrupted service after January. In the new regulations, any DTH provider like Airtel DTH TV, Tata Sky or Dish TV can charge a maximum of only Rs 130, excluding GST, for a set of 100 non-HD channels.

If you opt for any pay channel in that list of 100, you have to pay extra, according to the MRP of that individual channel. After a TRAI order, all broadcasters like Sony, Zee, Star, Discovery, Sun, Turner and, Viacom have declared which of their TV channels are free-to-air (FTA) and which ones are pay channels.

10 things to know about selecting new plans on Airtel DTH, Dish TV, Hathway and others

1. Besides a la carte rates, all major broadcasters have also declared various bouquets based on genre and language. The prices declared by individual broadcasters are the maximum retail price and your TV service provider can offer you a deal below the MRP. Even the price of the base packs can be lower than Rs 130.

2. On its website, Airtel DTH TV shows a base pack of Rs 99 with a host of SD (standard definition) channels. Tata Sky’s lowest base pack, too, begins from Rs 99. However, both the operators have a list of select SD TV channels as part of the pack. As the new TRAI rules come into force, these base packs will also undergo a change as you will have the liberty to put any SD channel of your choice in the base pack. Any pay channel you include in the list gets added to your bill.

3. In the new regulations, any subscriber wanting to watch more than 100 channels can choose additional channels in each slab of 25 channels with at a maximum price of Rs 20 per slab. According to TRAI, consumers opting for more than 100 channels are rare and form only 10-15% of the market. About 80% subscribers, according to the viewing pattern from BARC, do not even flip more than 40 channels.

4. “If a consumer carefully chooses channels of choice for the complete requirement of a family, the amount payable may be even less than the present payments being made per month,” TRAI says on its website.

5. As reported to TRAI, there are as many as 330 pay TV channels, including HD and SD, from 40 broadcasters. The list of private FTA channels goes up to 535.

6. Among the 40 broadcasters, at least 17 have announced bouquets of several channels with discounted pricing. For example, a bouquet of 9 channels will cost Rs 63 if taken a la carte basis but if bought together, the price reduces by almost half to Rs 31.

7. FTA channels can’t be clubbed with pay channels in a bouquet. Further, HD channels can’t be clubbed with the SD version of the same channel, so that the consumer has complete clarity with respect to what is on offer.

8. You also have the freedom to buy a set-top box from the market and not from the service provider. However, that set-top box will have to be technically compliant with the system of the operator.

9. TRAI has instructed that there shall be no blackout of services till January 31 but after that, you may be pushed to the basic pack, which has no pay channels. To avoid disruption in services, you have to migrate to the new plan by the end of the month.

10. Every cable operator or DTH player has been asked to run a consumer information channel preferably on channel No. 999 wherein consumer-related information including the prices of channels shall be displayed.

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