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TV channel subscription tariffs in for big shake-up

TV channel subscription tariffs in for big shake-up

Kozhikode: Subscribers of cable TV and DTH (Direct to Home) users are in an anxious wait. With the new regulatins regarding cable TV subscriptions brought in by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) set to kick in on Saturday, users are waiting to see how it will affect their viewing costs. When TRAI asserts that tariffs will definitely fall, cable TV/DTH operators are of the stance that a section of subscribers will have to shell out more to continue viewing their current favourite channels.

All the same, it will be to the benefit of subscribers that there will not be any foul play in packages and monthly subscription rates. TRAI has already dismissed rumours that with the new regulations coming into force, some channels will go off air.

One of the main elements of TRAI guidelines is that 100 channels are to be offered at a monthly rate of Rs 130 excluding taxes. Out of this, 24 are Prasar Bharati channels. If more channels are required, subscribers have to pay at the rate of Rs 20 for 25 channels. Kerala Television Federation has inserted advertisements through media announcing these benefits.

With the new regulations in force, the number of pay channels will increase. Currently the country has 873 registered channels, of which 541 are free channels and 332 pay channels.

In Malayalam there are 14 pay channels i.e. Asianet, Asianet HD, Asianet Plus, Asianet Movies, Surya, Surya HD, Surya Music, Surya Moovies, Surya Comedy, Kochu TV, New18 Kerala, Zee Keralam, Zee Keralam HD, and Raj News.

Although the provision that the fee per pay channel should not exceed Rs 19 will benefit the consumer, the final picture will be clear only after cable operators and DTH companies declare tariffs and packages.

Big time sports networks have slashed their charges. Star Sports channels which had charged Rs 90, will now on be available for Rs 19 maximum. Sony-ESPN will charge only Rs 5, Ten1 Rs 19,
Ten2 Rs 15 and Ten3 Rs 17. Rates for bouquets of big networks also have been decided. Star Network's full package will be charging Rs 287, whereas Star Malayalam including Asianet will charge Rs 39.

Cable operators and DTH companies are to declare their package rates by Saturday. Tata Sky has been granted time till 10 January by the court. TRAI authorities say that since consumers can select the channels they need, they will have to pay only for them and so total cost will come down.

Carriage fees charged for including channels in cable TV and DTH networks, will also be reduced from Saturday. However, there is also the likelihood that less popular channels may go out of the list of Cable TV and DTH networks.

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