Indian TV industry gears up for Trai's digital cable TV norms

With digitalised cable TV norms to be rolled out by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Indian television industry is gearing up for the sea change that this is expected to usher in. Under the norms, television viewers would get to choose a minimum hundred free to air (FTA) channels at a maximum retail price of Rs100.

Cable operators would need to mandatorily offer a 'basic service tier' (BST) to viewers across country, which would consist of 100 free to air channels including 18 mandatory Doordarshan channels plus the Lok Sabha channel.

According to the Trai tariff order, apart from the mandatory channels in the BST, cable operators and multi system operators (MSOs) would have to provide customers a minimum of five channels of different genres.

The genres which been named as 'general entertainment channels' (GEC) in English, GEC- Hindi, GEC - regional, music, news, movies, sports, kids infotainment, lifestyle by the Trai.

Customers would also get to choose another option, which includes some pay channels and pay a monthly price upto Rs150, according to the Trai rules.

According to industry sources, banning carriage fees in the new digitisation of cable distribution regime from 1 July was necessary to ensure that government could plug the huge revenue leakage upwards of Rs10,000 crore annually due to the levy of huge carriage fees by cable companies and gross under-declaration of their subscriber base.