Broadcasting sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday held consultations with various stakeholders on tariff issues related to broadcasting and cable TV services for commercial subscribers. Also Read - TRAI says mobile number will remain 10 digits, has no plan for 11 digits: Report
Among the issues discussed were the definition as to who exactly is a commercial subscriber and the manner of categorisation of such subscribers. Apart from these, the manner of offering broadcast and cable TV services to commercial subscribers and the tariffs were also discussed. Among those present at the open house discussion were representatives of broadcasters, cable TV and DTH operatorsand hospitality-sector bodies along with TRAI members RK Arnold and Vijaylakshmy Gupta and senior officials. Also Read - TRAI proposes no SMS charges beyond daily limit of 100, asks to withdraw current 50 paisa charge
On the issue of definition of commercial subscribers, representatives of the broadcasters suggested that those who are not domestic subscribers should be considered commercial subscribers. However, a range of other opinions was also expressed with other stakeholders suggesting that if someone goes to a hospital or a hotel for a day or two, that person does not do so just to watch television and, so, it may not necessarily qualify as commercial. Another participant averred that the TRAI Act or the Cable TV Act does not distinguish between consumers. It was also suggested that consumers’ interests should be kept in mind before any decision is taken and a special session could be convened to obtain their views. Also Read - Airtel Digital TV will return the remaining balance from its annual and semi-annual plans
Broadcasters argued that they had to pay for creation of content and that different charges for commercial use is prevalent for services like water and electricity. Others, however, said that channels charge for advertisements and good content automatically results in more advertisements, thus compensating the broadcaster. TRAI officials sought final comments from stakeholders by Tuesday and said that the regulator was holding the consultation in line with a Supreme Court order.