Trai has floated a consultation paper on the issues regarding the new telecom regulatory regime on which DTH operators have drafted their comments
Many Direct to Home (DTH) service providers have come together to request regulations that allow for discounts on the Network Capacity Fee (NCF) and distributor retail price (DRP) as part of the new regulatory regime. Dish TV, being one of the largest DTH operators in the country, has filed its comments on the consultation paper concerning the issues of the regulatory regime of the broadcasting industry. In its comments, Dish TV highlighted that discounted NCF and DRP should definitely be allowed for multi-TV connections as it lies in the consumer interest. The DTH operator also added that the regulations should be molded such that the broadcasters should also be able to extend discounts on the channels, channel packs or bouquets for such multi-TV subscribers.
Tata Sky Requests Invoking of Free Market Practices
Tata Sky has also said that in the previous regulatory regime, discounts were possible on the multi-TV connections because the previous rules allowed the DPOs to negotiate a mutually beneficial price. The largest DTH operator in the industry, Tata Sky, also remarked that subscribers are best served when free-market principles come into play and which allow mutually beneficial prices that are negotiated by the industry stakeholders. The DTH operator also termed the new tariff regime as narrow and prescriptive. It added to its words, “We are in agreement, to the limited extent, that this consultation process and the regulatory amendment thereafter should allow for a provision to DPOs to enable discounts on the NCF to their subscribers.”
DTH Operators Against Capping of NCF Discount
It is worth noting that both Tata Sky and Dish TV are against the placement of any kind of cap on the discounts of NCF allowed for multi-TV subscribers. Both operators also said that there should not be any kind of discount cap and that the multi-TV connections’ NCF should be governed by the existing Rs 130 formula. It also said that DPOs should be able to extend discounts on NCF freely within the permissible limit as per business requirements. It also remarked that the provision of discounts by broadcasters has been an existing practice in the previous Trai regime. Tata Sky also believes that all the revenue sources of the operators have been capped. It remarked about the issue saying “We are of the view that the regulatory provision should enable NCF discount for Multi-TV. However, there is absolutely no need to fix any caps on NCF.”
Airtel Digital TV, also drafted its comments on the consultation paper floated by Trai. As per the DTH operator, there is a need to de-link the subscription to the platform from the subscription to the channels. Airtel Digital TV said, “However, customers still have to pay individually to each distributor (and ultimately to the broadcaster) for accessing the same channel on its distribution platform. Ideally, if a customer has already paid subscription charges for a channel to a broadcaster for accessing its channel on one distribution platform, then they should be able to access that channel over any platform.”
Airtel Digital TV also extended the idea of a technological solution for sharing of information between the distribution platforms so that once a subscriber is subscribed to a particular channel, he or she can access that channel on any other platform without repeating the payment. The DTH operator also added that the rule should encompass not only the distribution platforms but also other channels like mobiles, laptops and more. The operator has further added that the definition of multi-TV should also be specified so that no conflict emerges between the entities of the ecosystem.
Sun Direct, in its comments, highlighted that it might not be possible for DTH operators to extend NCF discount on second connections because of incremental costs. It also said that DPOs should not be mandated to provide a specific choice of channels for each TV separately in Multi TV connection home.