The All India Digital Cable Federation fails to agree to TRAI’s new price regime
Cable companies under AIDCF were disconnected on Saturday due to this conflict
Feb 20, 2023 10:17:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team Share -
The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) has issued a statement on the non-compliance of The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), concerning the new pricing structure implemented by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
This pricing system came into effect on 1 February.
AIDCF and its members also participated in the consultative process and were aware of the timelines prescribed by TRAI.
Broadcasters had provided an additional opportunity to the AIDCF members, they offered such Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) additional 48 hours to sign the revised interconnect agreement to continue receiving TV signals without interruption, keeping in mind the interest of the subscribers.
While some operators have signed the agreement, AIDCF members chose to ignore it and deliberately refused to sign the revised Interconnect offer.
Due to this row, cable companies under AIDCF were disconnected on Saturday leaving 25 million subscribers with no signal.
Cable operators such as Hathway, Den, GTPL, all owned by Reliance Industries, NXTDIGITAL, part of Hinduja Group, Asianet Digital Network, owned by Rajan Raheja Group, Kerala Communicators Cable, and UCN Cable Network are a part of AIDCF.
This also resulted in broadcasting channels such as Disney Star, Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Sony Pictures Networks India, switching off its signals to cable operators.
Under the new pricing regime or commonly known as the NTO 3.0, the subscriber has the flexibility of choice on whether to pick one channel or a bouquet of channels. The maximum monthly subscription fee for a channel to be included in bouquet is INR 19. Earlier the bouquet pricing was INR 12.
With broadcasters rising the price, cable operators feel that they will lose out on viewers.
TRAI’s 2017 regulations brought in a separate charge of Network Capacity Fees (NCF), which DPOs charge and collect from the subscribers for provisioning access to the TV services.
DPOs collect subscription fees in advance from consumers but do not pass the share to broadcasters promptly.
Hence, the price hike is due to the demand for the increase in the NCF by the DPOs and not at the back of the channel prices.
As a result, the AIDCF's claim that broadcasters are driving up TV channel prices and that 45 million households have been impacted by channel disruption remains redundant.
IBDF said, “They understood that the law mandates that the TV channels could only be provisioned under a signed interconnect agreement. As of today, all the broadcasters, all DTH providers and most of the cable operators, including some AIDCF members, have implemented the amended regulatory framework. Consequently, more than 90% of the DPOs have signed the revised interconnect agreement issued by the broadcasters, thereby choosing to comply with the law and ensuring that the service is not disrupted for the majority of the subscribers. As AIDCF has not been granted any interim relief in multiple High Courts, they are seeking to invoke public sympathy through a false narrative."