In a move to streamline the cable TV fee structure, broadcast regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Wednesday sought the Supreme Court's approval for a plan to cap the monthly charges at Rs250 across the country, except for pockets where conditional access system (CAS) is in pace.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, TRAI said that it proposes to divide cable services into three pricing slabs. The basic one would have a monthly charge of Rs100 for a minimum of 30 free-to-air channels, including the mandatory Doordarshan channels. For the basic package plus up to 20 pay channels, the bill would be Rs200; while for over 20 pay channels, customers would have to pay Rs250.
"The authority is of the view that the retail price cap for pay cable service should be fixed at Rs250 per connection per month, with the actual monthly bill being left to the business model of the individual operator - subject to the ceiling," said TRAI in the affidavit filed through its counsel, Sanjay Kapur.
Earlier, there were no limits on the number of FTA channels, but the monthly charge was fixed at Rs 83, while a maximum of Rs 260 was fixed for a basic package plus pay channels.
In CAS areas, including South Delhi and parts of Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, pay channels have been charged at Rs 7 per month.
As per industry estimates, there are 300 FTAs and 125 pay channels in the country at present.
On the wholesale tariff, the price charged by the broadcasters from the multi system operators (MSOs), TRAI said, ''The authority is of the view that it would be appropriate to allow an increase of 9 per cent over the existing prices of the channels/bouquets''.