TRAI stops reporting inactive DTH subs in quarterly PIR to bring transparency

MUMBAI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has stated that the latest report for the April-June quarter excludes inactive direct to home (DTH) subscribers which is why there has been a drop in the total DTH subscriber base in India.

The TRAI is only reporting the average active subscriber base to make the data transparent. It also pointed out that average active subscriber base means the number arrived by averaging the active subscriber base for a month (as on 7th day, 14th day, 21st day, 28th day, of the month).

The TRAI issued a clarification following a newspaper report that there has been a 25% drop in DTH subscriber base.

The regulator noted that the drop in subscriber number is due to the change in the methodology of counting an inactive subscriber. It added that the number of days for which inactive subscribers were taken into consideration is 90 days as compared to 120 days taken for previous quarters.

As per the Performance Indicators Report (PIR) for April-June quarter, the four private DTH operators had attained an average active subscriber base of around 54.36 million.

According to the PIR for January-March quarter, the five pay DTH operators (including the now-defunct Independent TV) had attained a net active subscriber base of around 72.44 million.

It further noted that from the quarter ending June 2019 data for subscribers who have not been inactive or temporarily suspended for more than 90 days is also collected. The total subscriber base of QE June 2019 is 68.92 million (now temporarily suspension period not more than 90 days) in comparison to 72.44 million (temporarily suspension period not more than 120 days) for QE March 2019.

According to TRAI, the marginal reduction in the subscriber base may be due to closure of DTH services by Independent TV and change in the number of days for which inactive subscribers were taken into consideration.

The newspaper report had attributed the drop in DTH subscriber base to the price increase post the implementation of TRAI tariff order and migration to video streaming platforms. The TRAI has stated that the report has drawn the wrong inference from the subscriber data.

“At the outset, it is clarified that these reports don’t compare the same set of data and therefore conclusion derived is wrong,” TRAI said in a release.

It further stated that subscribers of DTH services can be collected in many ways such as (a) Average active subscriber in a given month (b) subscribers including those who have not been inactive or temporarily suspended for more than 120 days (c) subscribers including those who have not been inactive or temporarily suspended for more than 90 days (c) total registered subscriber from the date DTH operator started its operation.

Till March 2019, the DTH Operators were reporting (a) subscriber base which also includes subscribers who have not been inactive or temporarily suspended for more 120 days and (b) total registered subscriber from the date DTH operator started its operation due to the then prevailing regulatory framework.

To bring complete transparency in the sector, the TRAI for the first time in the history of the sector started collecting information related to the active subscriber in a month (Monthly subscription Report) from DTH operators. “This figure was never collected earlier. Hence no direct comparison is possible,” TRAI clarified.

“However, the subscriber base published for QE March 2019, the DTH Operators were reporting subscriber base which also includes the number of temporarily suspended subscribers who have not been inactive for more than last 120 days. Therefore, the figures quoted in the press reports are incomparable,” TRAI asserted.

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