Dec 27, 2008

India - Come 2009, TV viewing to become costlier

New Delhi, Dec. 26 The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has amended the Broadcasting and Cable Tariff Order to allow for inflation-linked adjustments in the rates for cable TV services.

Broadcasters have now been allowed a 7 per cent increase in rates and consumers will have to bear a part of this increase, come Janurary 2009.

In 2004, TRAI had frozen broadcasters’ rates, at the December 26, 2003 levels. Since then, a 4-per cent increase has been implemented. Last October, the regulator had also fixed ceilings for what a consumer could be charged depending on the city he lived in.

Cable TV viewing in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, or Surat will cost at least Rs 11 more. For up to 20 pay channels and 30 free-to-air channels, the operators can now ask for a maximum of Rs 171. The same will cost Rs 20 less in Asansol, Coimbatore or Puducherry, amongst others. Everywhere else, it will now cost a maximum of Rs 139.

At the other end, more than 45 pay and 30 free-to-air channels will cost consumers, in Bangalore for example, a maximum of Rs 271 a month. The ceiling for those in Asansol, for instance, will be Rs 235, and elsewhere Rs 214.

For Conditional Access System-mandated areas, individual channels will now cost a maximum of Rs 5.35 (excluding taxes) per month. The basic service of 30 free to air channels will cost Rs 82/ month, up from the current Rs 77.

STB rentals

Rentals and security deposits for set-top boxes will, however, be cheaper this coming year. Operators in CAS-mandated areas have been running two schemes, for which the regulator had fixed security deposits and monthly rentals according to the prevailing prices of STB.

Since the prices of boxes have dropped in the last two years, the TRAI wants this benefit to be passed on to consumers.

The security deposit of Rs 250 has been reduced to 200, and rentals to Rs 34 from Rs 45.

Under the second scheme, in which the deposit is Rs 999, consumers can now pay a security of Rs 750 and a monthly rental of Rs 22 instead of Rs 30.

The TRAI has reclassified cities and towns under X, Y and Z categories.

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