TRAI says no more postponement, urges consumers to move to new channel packs without delay

TRAI denied rumors of postponement of tariff deadline

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the agency that oversees the telecom and media sector in India, today refuted rumors that the implementation of the tariff order has been postponed beyond February 1 and asked consumers to move to the new plans without leaving it for the last moment.

The clarification came in the wake of a video of member of parliament addressing a meeting of cable operators in which he can be heard comforting them that the deadline for the introduction of the new tariff plans has been postponed to June 2019, after the general elections.

However, said TRAI, such rumors and assertions are without any basis and there is no postponement.

“It has been brought to the notice of the Authority that certain rumors and messages are being floated that the implementation of the new framework has been postponed or stopped or is being modified,” the agency said in a note.

It said that the new framework came into effect on 29th December 2018 with cable and DTH providers publishing their tariffs, plans and channel prices on that day.

These plans and prices will come into effect from February 1 and all cable and DTH operators have to migrate their customers to the new plans by January 31 after seeking consumers’ preferences.

“The schedule of activities has been duly communicated to all the service providers for reaching out to the consumers and obtaining choices. TRAI is conducting review meetings regularly to monitor the progress. All the service providers are again advised to strictly observe the timelines as provided in the migration plan dated 28th December 2018.,” it said.

It urged consumers not to wait for the last moment to migrate to their new plan.

“All the subscribers are requested to exercise their options without waiting for the last minute to avoid any inconvenience and to ensure that they continue to view their favourite channels,” it said.

It said it is “monitoring the progress” of the roll-out with regard to the “availability of consumer corner, choices to the consumers, provision of consumer care channel, percentage of consumers whose choice has been obtained etc. on day to day basis,” it said.

Interestingly, consumers have been complaining that they are not able to get any constructive response from the cable and DTH operator when they call them up to inquire about migrating to the new plans.

Tata Sky, the biggest DTH provider is yet to inform customers about the new plans that come into effect on Feb 1, even as all other major cable and DTH providers have done so.

However, most of those that have published their new plans, channel packs and prices are not yet ready to start accepting consumer requests for migrating their plans.

TRAI said citizens can call it on 011-23237922 and 011-23220209 for more information or in case they are facing difficulties with regard to moving to the new plans.

The rumors of the postponement has come in the wake of protests and resistance to the new move from local cable operators, who fear that it will reduce their earnings.

LCOs typically keep about 50% of the monthly subscription charges paid by a subscriber.

However, under the new tariff rules, they can only keep a part of the network charges and distribution commission, and cannot touch the major part of the pay channel costs paid by the subscriber.

However, TRAI has tried to address the concerns, and said that the new order empowers local cable operators and does nothing to weaken their position.

TRAI is also fighting a separate case in the Supreme Court to bring back some of the balance into the sector after a judgement by the Madras High Court tilted the balance of power in favor of broadcasters.

Meanwhile, channels and broadcasters have published their new prices and rates under the upcoming tariff scheme, applicable from Feb 1.