TV carriage fee to remain affordable: TRAI chief

Seeking to address the concerns of TV broadcasters, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chief J S Sarma on Friday said the 'carriage fee' in the cable sector was expected to stay within a particular range and not reach astronomical figures.

"I would think that anything above 50 paise per channel, per subscriber per year would be actually something that needs to be noticed [by TRAI] ... anything above that would definitely need attention," Sarma said in a TV interview.

"In other words we would watch if it is going beyond a particular range or is it not," Sarma said. "Obviously we don't want any astronomical figures. This is meant for carriage of a channel, it is not any other money ... because we are saying 'no' to placement fee,"Sarma said.

Carriage fee is what multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators pay to get channels for their viewers.

Earlier on Friday, representatives of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) met TRAI officials to express their concerns regarding carriage fee.

Under the new TRAI regulations, MSOs must publish their carriage fee charges in a in the Reference Interconnect Offer and apply it in a uniform, non-discriminatory and transparent manner. (See: Indian TV industry gears up for Trai's digital cable TV norms).

The NBA says TRAI's new notification has legalised the practice of charging a carriage fee and given distributors the freedom to unilaterally set the amount of the fee broadcasters must pay to carry their channels.

(See: TV tariff guidelines: Cable firms up in arms, but MSOs not unhappy)