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TRAI notifies 2nd instalment of inflation-linked tariff hike in non-DAS areas

MUMBAI: Cable TV bills could turn out to be costlier in non-addressable markets. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has notified the second instalment of the 27.5 per cent non-addressable tariff hike that comes into effect from 1 January.

The authority had decided to give the provision for inflationary adjustment of 27.5 per cent in two instalments vide Tariff Amendment Order dated 31 March 2014. The first tranche of 15 per cent was allowed with effect from April 2014.

The balance inflation-linked hike has been allowed, both at the retail and at the wholesale level, via a notification of the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Thirteenth Amendment) Order, 2014 applicable for non-addressable (analogue cable TV) systems.

According to TRAI, the remaining inflation-linked increase works out to be 10.87 per cent (i.e. 1.275/1.15 x 100) over and above the price ceilings arrived at after increasing the same by 15 per cent.

In other words, with this 10.87 per cent (approx 11 per cent) inflation-linked increase, the ceilings prevailing as on 31 March 2014 effectively increase by 27.5 per cent, TRAI said.

The only other change in the tariff order is that the ceilings for retail tariff have been prescribed on a pan-India basis depending on the number of pay and free-to-air (FTA) channels provided. Earlier, the ceilings for retail tariff were based on city. The authority thinks that a national cap is the most straightforward and simplest way to protect the cable consumer.

The ceilings are Rs 117 per month for minimum of 30 FTA channels; Rs 234 per month for minimum 30 FTA channels and up to 20 pay channels; and Rs. 292 per month for minimum 30 FTA channels and more than 20 pay channels.

At the wholesale level, price ceilings are to continue, subject to inflationary adjustments from time to time.

This tariff order is expected to rationalise retail tariff ceilings and simplify its implementation, the authority asserted.

It must be pointed out here that the tariff hike has been challenged by cable operators in TDSAT. The matter is expected to come up for hearing on 5 January.