Tata Sky, India’s second largest TV channel distributor, finally unveiled its channels and packs under TRAI’s new tariff rules — and offered support to almost all broadcaster’s plans and packs.
Tata Sky consumers can log on to mytatasky.com or packselection.tatasky.com to modify their existing packs and packages and select the new bouquets and packs under the latest TRAI guidelines.
The move by the market leader removes the last hiccup in the roll-out of the new tariff regime by the TRAI.
NEW TARIFF PLAN
According to the new rules, DTH and cable companies can no longer force customers to buy entire packs and bouquets, but must instead offer them the choice of buying channels one by one.
In many ways, the wait has been worth it for Tata Sky users — who have only a week to shift to the new plans — as the company has unveiled the most easy-to-use software for selecting new channels and packs among all DTH players.
While Dish TV and D2h were the first to unveil such a system more than a week ago, the system was far from intuitive, and came pre-filled with 100 channels selected by the DTH provider. A user had to then manually remove these channels to make his own pack.
The Tata Sky system to select new channels and packs is much smoother as the company provides the user with a clean sheet, which the customer can start filling in.
There are, at first glance, no gimmicks either that relate to pushing certain channels or packs, or blocking any.
Upon logging into the ‘pack selection portal’, the user is given the option of choosing from Tata Sky’s own packages, broadcasters’ packages or individual channels.
He or she can also see a combined list of all channels and packs to select the ones he or she needs.
As expected, the DTH provider’s own packs are rather limited in choice and variety due to the restrictive pricing announced by channel owners.
The smooth implementation is just as well as Tata Sky has lost about 75% of the time that TRAI had given to ensure a smooth switchover of users on to the new system.
The sector regulator had given more than a month for operators to shift their consumers to new plans, starting with the announcement of new TV packs on Dec 28. However, most of the operators were ill-prepared to meet the Dec 28 deadline, and announced their list of new packs only in the first week of January.
Among the five major DTH providers, only two — Dish and D2h — had actually enabled an online application for users to shift to the new system before today.
It is not clear what the other two — Sun Direct and Airtel Digital — plan to do, and how they will migrate users onto new packages and tariff plans from Feb 1.
The TRAI has said that all existing plans must be canceled or modified to make sure that only schemes in conformity with the new order are in place from Feb 1.
Any failure to comply is likely to invite fines and other punitive actions.
Moreover, any customer who does not move over to the new system before Feb 1 will be either put on a pack of the DTH provider’s choice or be staring at a blank screen.
It is expected that Airtel Digital and Sun Direct will soon modify their self-care apps to enable users to move to the new packs.
It remains to be seen if the IT infrastructure and servers of these operators, including Tata Sky, will be able to sustain the huge rush of customers that will hit them in the coming days as everyone scrambles to update their profiles online.
The move by Tata Sky also signals a pause, if not an end, to the resistance by entrenched industry players against the new rules which were supposed to have come into effect in September 2017.
Tata Sky, Airtel Digital, Discovery Communications and Star India successfully prevented the new rules from coming into effect so far by filing cases against the provisions in various courts.
Star India’s petition went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which upheld the regulator’s rights to impose structure, norms and caps on discounts in the interest of the consumer.
Tata Sky and Airtel Digital continue to argue their case in the Delhi High Court. However, given the approval given by the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court case can now only result in some modifications of the scheme, rather than a significant overhaul.
The move by Tata Sky to introduce the new plans and packs seems to indicate that the DTH provider too recognizes the limited possibility of an big victory.
The case filed by Tata Sky in the Delhi High Court was supposed to be taken up yesterday. However, it was postponed to next week due to the unavailability of the judge.