TRAI to develop apps to help DTH, cable TV subscribers select channels

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) proposes to develop a channel selection system to help DTH and cable TV users with channel selection. TRAI has received complaints from the consumers regarding the difficulties faced while choosing TV channels conveniently after the new framework for cable services has been put into frame.

To make it easier for the customers, TRAI has proposed having a channel selection system, which will be developed by a third party. These applications will help subscribers choose TV channels from any cable or DTH provider according to the new tariff regime.
Further, TRAI also wishes to reduce TV viewing charges of the consumers by optimizing the subscription.
In a notice published on Friday, August 9, TRAI informed that it has received several complaints from consumers, who are not able to choose the TV channels conveniently on the web portal/ apps of the DPOs. The complaints were then analyzed by TRAI and forwarded to DPOs to take necessary action. Customers also complained that the call centers of DPOs are also not helping to facilitate consumer choice of the channels.
In order to tackle the situation, TRAI has sought suggestions from third-parties to develop an app that can facilitate the selection of TV channels. It has sought comments from stakeholders on the issue, which will be open till August 22.
The memorandum from TRAI reads, ‘In order to address the above issue, the authority, in the larger public interest, felt need to have Channel Selection System developed by third party to facilitate easy channel selection by consumers. Since, third party apps will be accessible by every customer of broadcasting & cables services sector, therefore, it will facilitate easy choice to consumers.”
“To facilitate functioning of third-party apps, TRAI created Channel Selection System API Specifications document which prescribed common APIs with all Distribution Platform Operators (DPO). TRAI intend to mandate all DPOs to compulsorily share information with the apps after authenticating the subscriber so that such apps can help in easy selection of the required TV channels,” it added.
Months after rolling out its ambitious plan to charge consumers only for the channels that they wish to watch, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that it wants to streamline the channel selection procedure and is working with a third party to develop an application. The application will help the users in choosing TV channels from various cable and DTH providers according to the new tariff rules. Stating that the regulator has received a large number of complaints regarding inability to choose the TV channels conveniently, try will soon launch the Channel Selection System, it said in a statement. Further, TRAI also wishes to reduce TV viewing charges of the consumers by optimizing the subscription.
“It was noticed that quite a few Distribution Platform Operator platform were not providing adequate freedom and choice to consumers,” TRAI said, adding that the customers were also facing the issues from DPO call centres as they were not able to help the users to exercise choice of the channels. TRAI has analyzed the user complaints and forwarded them to the DPOs as well as some of the DPOs were not fulfilling the criteria set by TRAI. According to TRAI, “quite a few DPOs platforms were not providing adequate freedom and choice to consumers”.
TRAI’s new regime for TV watching was launched in February 2019 and aimed at revolutionizing the way consumers pay for TV subscriptions. Under the same, TRAI transferred the power of selecting channels to the customers, thus making it possible for consumers to pay for only those channels that they wish to watch. However, many customers were left baffled with service providers bundling channels as they wished.
Several media companies offer bundled channels for lesser value as compared to the cost of the channels when selected individually. TRAI had released a mock channel selector application previously as well where the application bundled such channels to avoid extra costs. TRAI may look to add the same feature to the new application as well.