TDSAT declines tariff order – Indian cable prices may rise
New Delhi – Monthly cable and direct-to-home (DTH) bills may rise sharply in India as the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) rejected a tariff order issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). As a result of the TDSAT order, over 65 pay-TV channels like Star One, Colors and Star Cricket would be able to raise prices previously capped by TRAI. The TDSAT rejected TRAI’s tariff order of October 2007, proposing a price band of Rs 132-260 for cable services based on classification of cities and the number of pay channels provided by MSOs. TRAI’s 2007 tariff order is said to be based on an October 2004 order that had prevented any increase in prices of pay channels in basic bouquets. As such, broadcasters launched their new channels in additional bouquets – which pricing TRAI also capped subsequently. As pricing of DTH channels was inter-linked with pricing of cable channels in non-CAS areas, any increase in prices of cable channels would directly impact prices of DTH channels as well, experts said. The TDSAT gave its order on a petition filed by the broadcasters, including Zee, Star, Sony and Sun. The Multi System Operators (MSO) Alliance will also be affected as it stood with TRAI in this case. However, the TDSAT has asked the broadcast regulator to study afresh the issue of allowing MSOs to choose channels for distribution in non-CAS areas in the next six months. As a result of the TDSAT’s order, MSOs will not be able to pick and choose pay channels – cable companies will have to provide pay channels to consumers in complete bouquets as the retain pricing fixed by TRAI will also go away.
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