Dish TV, one of India’s biggest DTH operators, has slashed the rates of HD and standard-definition channels to Rs 17 and Rs 8.50 each, plus a tax of 18%.

Together, the cost of a single HD channel would come to around Rs 20 and that for a regular channel will come to Rs 10.

The move follows increased competition, and impending changes to the regulatory regime governing channel  prices.

According to new TRAI rules that will come into effect over the next few days, channel prices will have to be brought down to Rs 10-20 each. The TRAI rules have been challenged by Airtel Digital and Tata Sky, who have got a temporary stay order on the rules.

However, the court is likely to give a final decision on the matter in the next few days. The rules were originally supposed to come into effect on Sept 1, and the Supreme Court had instructed the Madras High Court to ensure that a final verdict on the matter is reached well before that.

Dish TV’s move seems to expect that the rules will be upheld by the court, and that all DTH operators will be forced to bring down their a-la-carte or individual channel prices to below Rs 20. At present, some of the channels are priced as high as Rs 70 per month.

Dish TV’s move is also aimed at increasing HD take-up among its subscribers.

Unlike Tata Sky and Airtel Digital, Dish TV gets most of its subscribers from the Hindu rural market. However, this market has less spending power compared to the urban market or the South Indian market.

As a result, it has become important for the company to price its channels more affordably compared to its rivals.

Dish TV’s HD offerings are tailored more towards the Hindi-speaking audience. It has around 66 HD channels, but still serves only 7 HD English movie channels, compared to 10 served by Sun Direct, which has a total of around 55 HD channels.

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