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Confusion reigns among clueless TV viewers ahead of new tariff regime

With the new tariff regime mandated by The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) coming into effect from December 29, 2018, broadcasters have been announcing their new channel pricing clubbed under different bouquet packs. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) along with some major broadcasters have been asking viewers to switch to the new tariff rates before the deadline via TV ads, even as channels, too, have come out with ads to announce their new pricing. 

With all such ‘noise’ in trade media, one would have expected TV viewers to have gone for the new tariff rates en masse by now. But with just a couple of days to go before the new tariff regime kicks in, the ground realities are far different. 

Adgully spoke to a cross-section of TV viewers across India in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Indore, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Dehradun and Assam. The common response was “We are not aware of any new channel pricing”. While people in the metros like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru have seen the promos on TV regarding the new tariff rates coming into effect from December 29, everyone is clueless as to how to go about subscribing to the new channel packs announced. 

So far, viewers have chosen the channel bouquets offered by the DTH service providers or cable operators at the quoted price, along with the FTA channels. The people Adgully spoke to said that so far they have not received any kind of communication from their DTH service provider or local cable operator to choose one of the offered channel pack. All of them wanted to know what would happen to the payment made in advance to their service providers for their existing packs. 

The TV viewers are wondering whether their screens will go blank post December 29 if they do not buy one of the channel packs as per the new tariff rates. Anticipating such a scenario, TRAI has issued a notification asking broadcasters and cable operators to continue to telecast the channels that the subscribers are watching currently even after December 29. The regulator has asked the broadcasters and cable operators to give sufficient time to the subscribers to make the switch. TRAI, meanwhile, is in the process of formulating a detailed migration plan for the subscribers. 

A quick glance (as on December 27, 2018) of the websites of leading DTH service providers such as Tata Sky, DishTV, Videocon d2h, Airtel DTH, reveals that they are continuing to display their own channel pack offerings with no information on how a subscriber can migrate to the new tariff regime. Though there is mention about TRAI’s new tariff regime on the anvil. 

So, what happens to the FTA channels under the new tariff regime? As informed by broadcasters, the FTA channels would now be part of the paid packs, but one could continue viewing them as free on the DD FreeDish platform. Technically, FTA means the broadcaster has to be free across platforms, it can’t be free on FreeDish and payable model on Hathway or DTH platforms.

Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV said, “Republic TV is a free to air channel and has the widest reach in its genre. Republic Bharat will also be a free to air channel. We are a strong  Pro-nationalist news platform and hence we must be accessible to the entire nation. The advertisers and agency partners are going to benefit immensely from our consumer centric approach and wide distribution.” 

It’s a wait and watch till December 29, 2018, before a clearer picture emerges.

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