TRAI says new tariff rules will protect long-duration packs

Broadcasting regulator TRAI today said that the new regulatory regime coming into force from December 29 has provisions that support long-duration packs.

The clarification came in the wake of doubts by many subscribers of long-duration packs about the continued validity of their plans after Dec 29.

However, despite TRAI’s clarification, it was not clear whether the long-duration packs and plans existing in the current regime would be carried over into the new regime or whether DTH and cable operators would be within their rights to modify them.

The input costs of DTH and cable providers will change substantially from Dec 29, making at least some of the long-duration packs unviable for the operator.

Asked whether a cable or DTH operator can modify a long duration pack — for which subscription charges have been paid in advance — TRAI replied in the negative, and said that they cannot modify or stop providing the service as long as all the constituent channels are still available on the platform.

“In case if the channel is discontinuing, a subscription charges of that bouquet should be reduced by an amount equivalent to discounted Distributor retail price of that channel. The Distributor should not substitute any channel in lieu of discontinued channels on its own,” it said.

The statement, however, is unlikely to fully comfort subscribers of long-duration packs, some of who have paid for up to two years in advance.

According to industry feedback, most, if not all, subscribers of high-end plans are likely to be able to continue with their plans in the new regime also.