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New tariff for broadcasting to cut subscription cost
Economic Times, February 07, 2019

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Wednesday said the new tariff regime for the broadcasting sector would reduce monthly subscription cost, rejecting a recent CrisilNSE -0.14 % report that had said consumers would need to pay more. “Crisil is a highly professional body while its report was based on assumption. They have taken the input of top 10 channels, and the computed value of multi-language channels in addition to those which offer similar content,” Trai chairman RS Sharma told reporters.

Sharma argued that it was highly unlikely for a subscriber to watch content in different languages as well as on two channels having the same content. “It was an unrealistic assumption and based on that, the outcome was incorrect,” the top regulator added. Crisil on Monday said that based on the current Trai pricing, the monthly TV bill could go up by 25% from Rs 230-240 to Rs 300 for viewers who opt for the top 10 channels.

But Sharma said consumers would be fully protected and should freely exercise their choice. “We expect bills will go down. Everything will be determined by market forces and there was no upper cap while the content pricing is under forbearance,” Sharma said.

Citing statistics based on 1.5 million viewers’ choices, provided by the IndusInd Media & Communication Ltd. (IMCL), Sharma said the average revenue per user (ARPU) fell to 10-15% in metropolitans and up to 10% in the Digital Addressable System (DAS) notified areas under phase-III and IV. With the new rules, a consumer paying in Mumbai could save Rs 54 on a monthly basis and would have to pay Rs 271 from the earlier Rs 325, while consumers in Delhi who pay Rs 303 per month would have to pay Rs 267 only. Sharma expects the cost of various packs created by operators to further go down in next few months.

Citing BARC data, he said nearly 90% consumers watch 50 channels or less, and added that the new regime is a pull model, while earlier it was a push strategy adopted by platform service providers. The regulator may also ask broadcast distributors to treat an individual TV set as a single connection if a family has more than one device.

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