TRAI gives OK to multi TV schemes, but price must be uniform

Airtel and Tata Sky both provided discounts on multi TV connections

Media regulator TRAI clarified that nothing in the new tariff regime prevents cable and DTH operators from offering discounts on the network charges payable by customers. Accordingly, it said, some of the cable and DTH operators have restarted their discounted multi TV offers.

The topic of ‘multi-connections’ — or multiple connections within the same household — had become a hotly contested one, with some saying that the new scheme requires all connections to have uniform charges. Therefore, they argue, the second connection too would have to be billed just like the first.

However, this is against the prevailing practice in which companies give discounts on multiple connections to the same household.

TRANSPARENT AND UNIFORM

While allowing such discounts on network charges to continue, TRAI however stipulated that the discount must be offered in a transparent and uniform manner.

In other words, if the first connection costs Rs 153, the second connection can be given for Rs 50. But in such a case, the policy has to apply to all customers in the region, and anyone who buys a second connection should get it at Rs 50 irrespective of the pack, location etc.

The move is likely to come as a major relief to customers of Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV, the most aggressive operators as far as bundling multiple connections is concerned.

“Few subscribers have raised the issue regarding the price of the second/multi TV connection at home,” TRAI said. “It has been clarified by the Authority that the Regulation provides a capping of Rs 130 as Network Capacity Fee (NCF) for 100 SD channels and Rs 20 for the slab of next 25 SD channels.

“Further, the regulation does not prohibit the service providers to offer discount or lower Network Capacity Fee for second/ additional connections in same location/ home,” it added.

“However, it may be noted that such discount shall be uniform in the target market area of respective TV channel distributor and duly declared by the DPO (Distribution Platform Operator) on their website.”

TRAI also said that some providers have already started offering discounts or a complete wave off of Network Capacity Fee (NCF) on additional connections within the same household.

NO DISCOUNT ON CHANNEL PRICES

Under the new tariff scheme that came into effect from this month, cable and DTH charges comprise two components — a network charge payable to the network provider, and a content charge payable to the channel owner. Both are collected by the network provider — usually the cable or DTH operator.

It is to be kept in mind that the waiver and discounts are applicable only on the network charge component.

If the second connection activates any pay channel, the price for the same has to be paid in full and at the same rate as applicable on the primary connection.

In other words, if Star Sports costs Rs 22.42 on the first connection, then activating it on the second TV will also cost an additional Rs 22.42.

This is different from earlier plans.

Under Tata Sky’s earlier Multi TV connection, a customer could get all the channels of the primary connection on his second and third TVs by paying an extra Rs 250.

Airtel Digital also used to offer something similar, and those plans too have been withdrawn.

However, all such schemes have been withdrawn now, and details of the new Multi TV schemes are yet to be published.

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