TRAI set to fix ceiling price for pay channels

A "ceiling price model" for individual pay channels of various broadcasters like Star, Sony and Zee is under consideration by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Last month the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal had halved Star's pay TV package rates to Rs 27, exclusive of taxes for direct to home TV, against Rs 54 charged by the broadcaster for cable TV.

The "ceiling price model" is expected to permit a broadcaster to offer any rate below this maximum price, and even offer discounts on bulk subscription of channels in response to competition.

Broadcasters, multi system operators (MSOs) and cable operators have been at logger heads for long on the issue of fixing individual prices of channels. This conflict has held back the implementation of the conditional access system for a long time. MSOs and cable operators observe that broadcasters club the less popular channels along with the more popular ones in their bouquet, leaving the consumers with little choice. Individual pricing of channels is expected to rectify this situation.

With TRAI at the helm, the issue may finally get resolved even as the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata adopt CAS by December 31 this year.