TRAI Defends New Tariffs At Bombay High Court


TRAI had recently issued new tariff rules where the prices of the Network Capacity Fee or NCF were lowered to Rs. 130. The amended rules were opposed by broadcasters claiming it unreasonable, but TRAI defends new tariffs at the Bombay High Court. Now, TRAI has told the High Court that the amendments ensure transparency and non-discrimination in channel rates.

TRAI Defends New Tariffs

TRAI Defends New Tariffs

TRAI says the new move is customer-friendly in an affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court. TRAI counsel Venkatesh Dhond said that the new tariff order (NTO) has a price limit on individual channel subscriptions, which benefits the customers. TRAI, in its affidavit, argued the earlier tariff framework was not consumer-friendly.

TRAI Tariffs Guidelines

The earlier tariff had left customers without much freedom to select the channels, either on an a-la-carte basis or on a bouquet basis as the prices were high. "The same channels would be offered along with several unwanted channels in a bouquet at extremely low prices," TRAI noted in the affidavit.

This meant consumers were indirectly forced to subscribe to unwanted channels in the "bouquet and the practice of taking channels a-la-carte was discouraged," TRAI said. Consumers were often left confused or taken for a ride by the tariffs. When mixed packs of free-to-air channels and paid channels were in a bouquet, it further made price comparison difficult.

Why Broadcasters Are Unhappy

Why Broadcasters Are Unhappy

The new framework, on the other hand, safeguards customers from illusionary pricing, TRAI said. "By the new amendments, consumers become the real decision-makers of what they view and have complete freedom to choose and pay only for that," he said.

However, several broadcasters were unhappy with the new tariff and were asked to file a revised tariff structure by January 15. Broadcasters like Indian Broadcasting Foundation, a representative body of TV broadcasters; Zee Entertainment; Film and Television Producers Guild of India; and Sony Pictures Network India had petitioned to the High Court after TRAI revised the tariff rules.

Broadcasters Oppose

The new tariff rules have lowered the NCF prices, where consumers are paying Rs. 130 per month for all FTA channels and will also have access to 200 channels. TRAI has mandated all broadcasters to bring in the changes to the pricing of the paid channels or a-la-crate and bouquets by January 15 whereas operators are required to show the updated prices by January 30.

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