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FAQs for Consumers on Regulatory framework for broadcasting and Cable Services

FAQs for Consumers on Regulatory framework for broadcasting and Cable Services

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has introduced a new regulatory framework for Broadcasting and Cable services. The same was notified in March, 2017. The framework comprises of Interconnection Regulations 2017, Quality of Service and Consumer Protection Regulations 2017 and Tariff Order 2017.

The new regulations came into effect from February 01, 2019.

Benefits to the consumers

  • A consumer becomes real decision maker in the new regulatory framework. A consumer will have complete freedom to choose what he/she wishes to watch and pay only for that.
  • The framework mandates that every channel will be offered on a-la-carte basis and the MRP has to be displayed on TV screen through the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) or Menu of their TV screens.
  • Consumer has complete freedom to choose their desired 100 Standard Definition (SD) channels within the network capacity fee of maximum Rs.130. The desired channels could be in A-Ia-carte Free to Air channels or Pay channels or bouquet of pay channels or any combination thereof.

Payment norms

A consumer's payment to the Service Provider (DTH/ cable TV operator) has two components. The first one is called the Network Capacity Fee (NCF). It is like a rental charge of the TV connection to your home. The other is the price of any pay channels that you select.

The MRP of NCF as prescribed is maximum Rs. 130 per month. This rental includes the carriage of 100 TV channels.You can select any FTA channel, pay channel or a bouquet(s) of pay channel as per your choice. If you want to increase the capacity (because you want to watch more than 100 channels), you can do so by paying an additional amount of Rs. 20 for 25 additional channels capacity or a part thereof. As an example, suppose you want to watch 110 channels, you may be charged an amount not exceeding Rs 150 (Rs 130 + Rs 20) per month. If you want to watch 150 channels, you pay another 20 rupees for the slab 125-150 channels.

To know how much you need to pay for your selection of channels and optimise your selection of channels, visit TRAI's Channel Selector Application.

Free channels

TV Channels come in two flavours from the price point. Some are free and others are paid channels. The MRP of paid channels is shown in rupees per month.No money's paid for free to Air (FTA) channels which are 571 in number at present.

To view the list of FTA channels, click here.

How to exercise options

Cable / DTH service providers are providing various options to consumers to exercise their choice. These methods include:

  • Personal contact by Local Cable Operator
  • Calling on Call Centre Number
  • Using Mobile App or through the service proivder's Website
  • Every service provider has been requested by TRAI to run Consumer Information channel preferably on channel No. 999 wherein consumer related information including the prices of channels on a-la-carte and bouquets are made.

What if annual subscription charges are paid by a subscriber in advance?

In case a subscriber has availed any scheme with advance charges paid for future lock-in period like an annual plan the distributor shall continue to provide services for such committed period without any increase in price / charges and without altering the other terms of subscription.

Getting a new connection and associated maintenance

What are the provisions for obtaining Cable Service /DTH service?

Procedure for new connection is as under:

  • Every Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, at the time of providing connection to a consumer, shall inform him about complete details of services, including but not limited to, maximum retail price per month and Distributor retail price per month of a-la-carte channels or bouquets, network capacity fee per month and the price of customer premises equipment, security deposit, rental amount, guarantee/warrantee, maintenance provisions and ownership of customer premises equipment, as may be applicable.
  • Every Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall provide broadcasting services related to television to the consumer upon obtaining duly filled Consumer Application Form as prescribed in Schedule I of the QoS regulations, 2017 and provide a copy of the same to the consumer.
  • Every Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall, by using the subscriber management system, assign a unique identification number to every subscriber which shall be communicated to the subscriber through Short Message Service (SMS) to the registered mobile number of the subscriber and other means of communication such as email, b-mail, monthly bill or payment receipt as may be deemed appropriate.

Is there any Consumer application Form prescribed by TRAI?

The Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall activate broadcasting services related to television to the subscriber only after the details of Consumer Application Form of such subscriber have been entered into the subscriber management system subject payment of charges for broadcasting services related to television shall be payable by the subscriber from the date of activation of such services.

Is there any amount to be paid upfront for getting a new connection?

A Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, may charge an amount not exceeding rupees three hundred and fifty as a one-time installation charge for installation of a new connection for providing the broadcasting services related to television. A Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, may charge an amount not exceeding rupees one hundred as a one-time activation charge for activating the broadcasting services related to television.

What amount we have to pay for CPE to the DTH Operators/ Cable Operators?

Every Distributor or its linked local cable operator shall provide to every subscriber the set top box. It shall be permissible for every subscriber to buy a set top box of approved quality from the open market, if available, which is technically compatible with the system of the Distributor of television channels.

The Distributor or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall not compel any subscriber to buy or take on rent the set top box from him alone.

Every Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall offer customer premises equipment to every consumer under the following schemes:
  • outright purchase scheme, and
  • rental scheme.

Who owns the CPE provided by distributors?

In case of outright purchase scheme, the Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall specify the retail price of customer premises equipment (CPE) along with guarantee/warranty period. The guarantee/warranty period in respect of such customer premises equipment shall be for at least one year. The ownership of such customer premises equipment shall rest with subscriber.

What is the installation charge prescribed under new regulation?

A Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, may charge an amount not exceeding Rs 350 as a one-time installation charge for installation of a new connection for providing the broadcasting services related to television.

A Distributor of television channels or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, may charge an amount not exceeding Rs 100 rupees one hundred as a one-time activation charge for activating the broadcasting services related to television.

What is the procedure for maintenance of CPE?

Distributor or a cable operator is responsible for maintaining the Set Top Box if the same is provided under rental scheme or Bundled Scheme of STB in a good working condition to ensure uninterrupted services to a subscriber for a minimum period of 3 years. Further it shall be permissible to DTH operator to charge an amount not exceeding Rs 250 as a visiting charge per registered complaint requiring visit of a person to subscriber premises for carrying out repair and maintenance services.

What are the billing and payment options for consumers?

Every Distributor or cable operator offering services both on pre-paid and postpaid basis shall change payment mechanism from prepaid to post paid or vice versa as the case may be on the request made by the subscriber from the next billing cycle. The distributor shall not charge any amount from the subscriber for such change in payment mechanism

What are the provisions of temporary disconnection?

Subscriber at least 15 days prior to the suspension date should make a request to his Distributor of cable operator for temporary suspension of service. The temporary suspension shall be for a minimum period of 1 month or multiples thereof.

Can a DTH operator change the channels or bouquet of channels in a package?

No Distributor should discontinue any bouquet or channels in a bouquet by a subscriber during locking period or during period for which advance is paid by the subscriber if all the channels forming part of the bouquet is available on its platform

What if my DTH operator discontinues the channels subscribed and paid in advance by me?

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.

What are the provisions for closure of DTH subscription?

A subscriber can request for disconnection at least 15 days in advance to the DTH operator. The DTH operator shall disconnect the connection and refund the deposit within 7 days subject to fulfilment of terms and conditions of services.

Has TRAI provided any regulations for complaint redressal under new regulations?

For redressal of complaints, the Distributor shall establish a customer care centre which shall contain toll free customer care number having sufficient number of lines, interactive voice response system having 3 levels. Further, the details of complaints redressal shall be published on its website and also use different means such as SMS, TV scrolls, printing in bills etc.

What amount we would pay if I take one more (second) connection for another TV in my house from the same distributor?

In addressable system, each set - top box becomes a unique identity of the subscriber. Therefore, each set - top box is counted as one subscriber for the purpose of calculation of subscription fee payable to the broadcasters. In case of a household with multiple TV connection, usually there is a single connection between distributor s premises to that household for carriage of channels. From single connection multiple connections are provided. Therefore, complete flexibility has been given to distributor s to charge for multiple TV connections in a household.

Source : TRAI

Related resources

  1. FAQs on new regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable services of TRAI


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