TRAI notifies 1 Feb as effective date for migration of TV customers to new tariff regime

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has notified the principal regulations to extend the deadline for the implementation of the new tariff regime to 1st February.

The regulation 45(3) of the principal regulations dated the 3rd March 2017 has been amended to give the distribution platform operators (DPOs) one month time to migrate customers to the new regime.

The earlier deadline for implementing the new tariff regime was 29 December. The customers, meanwhile, will continue to receive the same package for another month.

However, the DPOs will have to start collecting the details of the channels that the subscribers want to subscribe by 31st January. For the interim period, the existing interconnect agreements will continue.

The sub-regulation (3) now states that “all the distributors of television channels shall continue to offer the said packs, plans or bouquets to all the subscribers till 31st January 2019”.

It further stated that “it shall be mandatory for all the distributors of television channels to either discontinue or modify all their existing packs, plans or bouquets in compliance with the provisions of these regulations after 31st January, 2019”.

The DPOs will have to offer and obtain the option for subscription of new packs, plans or bouquets from the subscribers in compliance with the provisions of these regulations on or before 31st January 2019.

They also have to ensure that services to the subscribers are provided as per the new packs, plans or bouquets opted for subscription by the subscribers only after 31st January 2019.

In order to have a smooth implementation of the new regulatory framework, TRAI held a series of meetings and consultations with all the stakeholders including Consumer Advocacy Groups (CAG) during the last 4-6 weeks.

During these meetings, it was pointed out by some of the stakeholders that Distributor Retail Price (DRP) by the DPOs could be declared within 180 days from the 3rd July 2018 and the subscribers were also required to be migrated to the new framework within the same period.

This entire process of migration including taking options from the subscribers after the declaration of DRPs as well as to bring the subscribers to the new framework cannot be carried out simultaneously. Further, to make the consumers aware about the new framework and the process of seeking a fresh choice of TV channels from all subscribers would require some time and resources.

A meeting of the authority was also held on 19th December 2018 with the CEOs of major service providers in the broadcasting and cable services sector. The issue of smooth migration from the old to new regulatory framework was specifically discussed and deliberated upon. Subsequently, to assess the preparedness for migration, the Authority held another meeting on 27th December 2018 with all broadcasters and leading DPOs (DTH/MSO/HITS/IPTV).

It emerged from the discussions that most of the stakeholders are by and large ready for implementation of the new regulatory framework. However, the progress to collect choice of subscribers is slow.

In order to have a smooth transition of subscribers from old to the new framework, across the country, some more time is desirable. Accordingly, the Authority agreed to the request of industry and decided that DPOs may be given time up to 31st January 2019 to obtain subscribers’ options of TV channels for migration to the new regulatory framework. The subscribers would accordingly be migrated to the new regulatory framework as per their options w.e.f. from 1st February 2019.