Siti Networks, the cable TV arm of the Zee Essel Group, has become the first major distribution platform to notify new cable TV prices that will come into effect from Sunday under TRAI’s revised tariff plan.
The company has put up a declaration on its website in which it has updated the number of channels available under the basic slab to 200, and the maximum network capacity fee to be Rs 160 plus tax.
Under earlier TRAI tariff order, a customer was assured of getting only 100 channels within the first slab of Rs 130. However, many cable and DTH operators were offering more than that on a voluntary basis.
Similarly, under Tariff Order 1.0, customers were to pay extra network charge for subscribing to extra channels, while under the amended order, there are only two slabs, and the customer can activate any number of channels for a network fee of Rs 160. Pay channel charges will continue to be extra and separate.
Siti Cable has also implemented the provision to charge a lower fee for multiple connections.
Under TRAI Tariff Order 2.0, the network charge levied on the second and any subsequent connection can be no more than 40% of the regular network charge.
As a result, if the regular network charge if Rs 154 (including tax), the NCF for the second and third connections cannot be more than Rs 62.
The decision to bring down the network charge for subsequent connections is based on the logic that the cable operator does not incur as much expense in maintaining the second and third connections inside a home, as he does in maintaining the first connection.
The move to publish these revised rates come in the wake of the regulator writing to all distribution platforms to publish updated charges on their websites in conformity with the amended tariff order.
The new charges will come into effect on March 1, irrespective of whether these cable and DTH operators publish them on their website or not.
Any DTH or cable operator that continues to charge tariffs under the older rules will be fined by the TRAI.
That said, multiple parties have filed cases in multiple high courts in the country in an attempt to stall the roll-out of the amended tariff order.
Channel owners have also decided to keep their popular channels out of all packages in the hope that one court or the other will issue a stay order on the roll-out of the new tariff order.
On the other hand, the amended tariff order is less of a headache for cable and DTH firms. For them, the main headache is the limit placed on the money they can charge from channels by way of carriage fees for carrying the channels on their network.
Like channel owners, distribution platforms too have approached various courts, including Kerala High Court, to have this provision removed.
If no stay is forthcoming in the next three days, cable and DTH customers will find that several popular channels — such as Star Plus, Zee TV and Sony — are missing from their packs on Sunday.
They will have to activate these channels separately.