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Old 1st January 2019, 16:29   #1
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Default TRAI announces major overhaul of DTH pricing

TRAI had announced major overhaul of DTH pricing which was supposed to go into effect on 29-Dec.

As the rules seem to be consumer-friendly (IMHO), and to the detriment of the cable/DTH operators profits, they have put cases in court, stalled and delayed the roll out. TRAI has now given time till Jan 31st to complete the rollout.

Below is my understanding of the changes. Please feel free to correct.

(Note: all prices given below include 18% GST)
1. Consumers can pay as minimum as rs154 to get 100 Free-to-air (FTA) SD channels or 50 FTA HD channels. List of FTAs. Please note that though the linked site is of Videocon D2H, FTA channels are defined by the broadcaster. In effect, this means the if a channel is FTA it is FTA across all DTH/Cable operators like Videocon, Airtel, Dish, Hathway etc.

2. Channel Prices are solely decided by the broadcaster, not by DTH/Cable operator. This is like the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) concept, where shops cannot charge more than what the producer decides. DTH/Cable operators can give at a lower price than the MRP.

3. Consequent to 1 and 2 above, all channel packs are now decided by the broadcasters (like Sony, Star, Times, Sun, Viacom, Discovery etc). There will not be any channel packs from DTH/Cable Operators. See Further reading links below.

The highest priced channels are now available at around rs 22.

Further since the price is now determined by the broadcaster, it is expected that if the channel doesn't have sufficient viewership, broadcasters will decrease the price to stay competitive.

In my opinion, this was a long due change. This makes it considerably simpler for consumers. For e.g. if you are interested only in sports, you can just buy Star and Sony sports bouquets and DTH bill can be as low as rs 230.

How migration from existing plans will be managed remains to be seen.'

Further reading:

List of Broadcaster Bouquets

Pay Channel Rates
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Old 2nd January 2019, 12:35   #2
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Default Re: DTH: TRAI New rules and Prices

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Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
TRAI had announced major overhaul of DTH pricing which was supposed to go into effect on 29-Dec.
WOW, this is awesome. I am paying 12k per year to TataSky and hope I can see some savings here. It is only for the WIFE I am stuck to TS else would have got rid of TS as netflix and prime are already there...
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Old 2nd January 2019, 13:24   #3
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Default Re: DTH: TRAI New rules and Prices

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Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
TRAI had announced major overhaul of DTH pricing which was supposed to go into effect on 29-Dec.

As the rules seem to be consumer-friendly (IMHO), and to the detriment of the cable/DTH operators profits, they have put cases in court, stalled and delayed the roll out. TRAI has now given time till Jan 31st to complete the rollout.
Is it possible to pick only pay channels and total it out to 200 odd Rs? ie skip the free channel package and instead substitute completely with pay channels? Is it mandatory to build on top of the 150Rs odd base package?
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Old 2nd January 2019, 13:46   #4
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Default Re: DTH: TRAI New rules and Prices

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Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
Is it possible to pick only pay channels and total it out to 200 odd Rs? ie skip the free channel package and instead substitute completely with pay channels? Is it mandatory to build on top of the 150Rs odd base package?
As per my understanding, no. The base package is where the DTH/Cable operators are making money as they don't have to pay anything to the broadcaster. I could be wrong though.

Another thing is that the DTH/Cable operators need not offer all the bouquets offered by a broadcaster, which is a bummer. They are only obligated to offer all channels at a-la-carte mode. So if Star is offering a cheaper Sports bouquet, it depends on DTH/Cable operator to offer it or not. You may still have to buy individual channels.
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Old 2nd January 2019, 15:35   #5
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Default Re: DTH: TRAI New rules and Prices

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Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
As per my understanding, no. The base package is where the DTH/Cable operators are making money as they don't have to pay anything to the broadcaster. I could be wrong though.
There is one more angle to it. The FTAs are predominantly DD channels (besides others). And government makes it mandatory for all platforms to ensure that every connection gets these channels without a miss. All these years all DTH and MSOs were forced to allocated numbers for these channels and let you view them the moment you had an active connection.

Now that you get to make your own package not much has changed. You still start with a basic package that has mainly these FTAs. Anything else will only come on top of these channels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
Another thing is that the DTH/Cable operators need not offer all the bouquets offered by a broadcaster, which is a bummer. They are only obligated to offer all channels at a-la-carte mode. So if Star is offering a cheaper Sports bouquet, it depends on DTH/Cable operator to offer it or not. You may still have to buy individual channels.
This portion of the ruling is a mess. Originally TRAI made it mandatory for the broadcasters to publish only individual channel prices and let the viewers decide what they wanted to pay for. This was obviously not a very palatable idea to the broadcasters as they feared the demise of a large portions of their channels.

So they challenged (mainly Tata Sky and Sun Direct, I think) the TRAI ruling as arbitrary and bad in law in the Madras High Court. Unfortunately the High Court struck out a good few portions of the original ruling thus rendering it toothless. It is due to these unfortunate partial striking out of the portions of the original ruling that the broadcasters are now able to create packages of their own. This has now beaten the whole purpose of the TRAI ruling. The broadcasters like STAR are now packaging everything into a bundle and pricing it comparatively lucratively as opposed to the individual packages. The idea is to see that you as a viewer don't get to reject the weaker channels and are forced to opt for the bundle rather than 1 or 2 of their channels that you need.

Now the broadcasters are going by the original ruling that makes it mandatory to carry the individual packages at the published prices. Since there was no concept of bundles in the original ruling there is also no such mandate to carry them as well. TRAI on the other hand is awaiting the SC hearing on its appeal against the Madras High Court ruling on the 10th Jan which will decide everything.

So if the SC restores the original ruling then these broadcasters bundles will vanish in quick time and you will possibly see the rationalization of the individual channel prices many of which are at present priced to discourage you from opting for them individually.

Last edited by Zappo : 2nd January 2019 at 15:37.
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Old 2nd January 2019, 15:43   #6
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

Great Post Zappo! Very informative.

I have Videocon D2H and I pay 300/- per month for super gold pack which includes all channels which are mostly watched with a free regional add-on. THis includes the GST as well. The basic price ex-GST comes to Rs. 254/-

Now I was doing a rough math:

Base Pack: Rs 130
Zee bundle: Rs. 45
Sony Bundle: Rs 31
I need Travel XP : Rs. 9

So, this only comes to Rs. 215. Adding GST takes it to ~Rs. 265/- Adding a few channels will easily take it north of Rs. 300/- which means that this package will be more expensive than what I am having currently and with more channels. In addition to this, they have added a 'slab concept' where you also pay slab charges per 25 channels. Some conditions taken from D2H website:

> For every additional slab of 25 channels: ₹20 will be charged if number of channels is 15 or
more. ₹1/- per channel will be charged if the number of channels is less than 15.
> Applicable taxes extra.
> One HD channel shall be treated equal to two SD channels for the purpose of calculating number of channels within the distribution network capacity subscribed.


Now, I just wish that I can keep my existing 300 rupee pack at least...



So, why this hoopla? Unless of course, SC has other plans.

Last edited by saket77 : 2nd January 2019 at 15:57.
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Old 14th January 2019, 10:56   #7
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

Update as of 14-Jan:

For Videocon D2H, I tried to migrate to the new TRAI plans.

Website - Not possible

Customer Care Phone - Not possible. They said the plans will be active only from 1-Feb. They were willing to take advance requests for migration, but then they redirected the call and after some waiting it got disconnected.

The delaying tactics by the DTH operators continues.
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Old 14th January 2019, 13:37   #8
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
So, this only comes to Rs. 215. Adding GST takes it to ~Rs. 265/- Adding a few channels will easily take it north of Rs. 300/- which means that this package will be more expensive than what I am having currently and with more channels.
You can bet your last penny on it that the costs will be far higher than what you paid earlier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
In addition to this, they have added a 'slab concept' where you also pay slab charges per 25 channels. Some conditions taken from D2H website:

> For every additional slab of 25 channels: ₹20 will be charged if number of channels is 15 or
more. ₹1/- per channel will be charged if the number of channels is less than 15.
I am absolutely not sure of what this charge is about. I don't think any MSO or DTH has any capability to levy additional charges beyond the mandated ones in the new regime. If they are indeed doing that then I think this has something to do with that carrier charges which the platforms are allowed to. If its is indeed that then IIANM that is capped at Rs.120.


Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
One HD channel shall be treated equal to two SD channels for the purpose of calculating number of channels within the distribution network capacity subscribed.
Part of the same distribution or carrier charges again and is allowed to be so for HD channels across all platforms (treated as 2 SD channels). For SD channels this is Rs.1.xx per SD channel (I think Rs. 1.2 per channel) and for HD this is Rs.2.40 per channel.


Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
So, why this hoopla? Unless of course, SC has other plans.
SC has no plans anyways. They are simply trying to resolve the bickering. Someone actually needs to ask TRAI on what was the real motive behind this grand siyappa. Of course they gave all the right soundbites like reduce the price, clear up the clutter, free the viewer from watching forced channels in a bouquet and what not. But in reality it was known from day-1 that prices will shoot up once this is implemented.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
The delaying tactics by the DTH operators continues.
Yes. They are playing their own sinister games. They are still taking subscriptions as per the existing packs as well. I for one have a subscription for the year as Ultra with HD on TSky and Infinity on Airtel. Both have around 6-7 months left.

I have a pretty good idea of what these buggers will eventually do. One fine morning (tentatively on Feb 1st) the amount remaining on a prorata basis for my packs will show up in my account. And they will default subscribe me to every damned channel they have on their platform on individual rates (logic=> we just continued with your earlier choice to go for the biggest pack to get all the channels, nevermind the fact that the channels I need were deliberately put in such bouquets that I had no option other than taking your catchall big pack).

So if I don't have a plan in place and don't step in time I will realize in 2 to 3 months that the remaining amount has got exhausted instead of the expected 6 months as per the current pack prices.
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Old 14th January 2019, 15:13   #9
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

Quick question (and I'm unable to find answers from the Tata Sky support guys, who continue to be non committal and illusive) : Am I able to just pick 3-4 channels, for my non primary television? I don't want any base pack and such.
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Old 14th January 2019, 15:15   #10
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

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Originally Posted by rovingeye View Post
Quick question (and I'm unable to find answers from the Tata Sky support guys, who continue to be non committal and illusive) : Am I able to just pick 3-4 channels, for my non primary television? I don't want any base pack and such.
Your quick answer -> No...
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Old 14th January 2019, 15:59   #11
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

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Originally Posted by rovingeye View Post
Quick question (and I'm unable to find answers from the Tata Sky support guys, who continue to be non committal and illusive) : Am I able to just pick 3-4 channels, for my non primary television? I don't want any base pack and such.
I'm in this quandary. Am supposed to renew tomorrow, I usually pay 6 monthly. TataSky are playing dirty and not revealing tariffs from Feb 1st. I plan to pay monthly and review next month.

I might switch to some basic stuff and subscribe to on-line channels
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Old 14th January 2019, 16:09   #12
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

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Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
I'm in this quandary. Am supposed to renew tomorrow, I usually pay 6 monthly. TataSky are playing dirty and not revealing tariffs from Feb 1st. I plan to pay monthly and review next month.

I might switch to some basic stuff and subscribe to on-line channels
And that's exactly what I'm doing as well. My 6 months were up yesterday. I am just doing month to month for now till things become clearer. Tata Sky keeps calling everyday trying to convince me to pay for another 6 months.
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Old 14th January 2019, 17:10   #13
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

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You can bet your last penny on it that the costs will be far higher than what you paid earlier.
Theoretically the costs will be lower for majority of subscribers.

The main difference between earlier regime and proposed regime is:

1. The concept of MRP per channel. And MRP is defined by the broadcaster.

2. Customer can just choose the base pack and few selected channels. For e.g. during ICC world cup if you just want to subscribe to couple of sports channels, then cost can be as low as Rs. 200 (base + 2 sports HD channels). So the ball is really in the consumers' court.

Secondly, if for example ICC WC is one channel, other sports channels may even drop MRP to retain viewership. This also should bring down prices for customers.

This change is similar to buying your choice of groceries every month, and buying the "bundled family packs" which every neighbourhood kirana is doing these days (5 litres of refined oil, 3 kgs of sugar and so on). For some the "bundled family packs" would probably work but not for a majority of families.

Quote:
I am absolutely not sure of what this charge is about.
This charge could be any of the two below:

1. For every 25 FTA channels, you have to pay 20rs to the distributor. This is network carrying charge and goes into the DTH operator pocket.

2. It could be for paid channels also, and the amount again goes to the DTH operator as network carrying charge, since the channel cost goes to the broadcaster.

I am still not sure which of the above it is.



Quote:
But in reality it was known from day-1 that prices will shoot up once this is implemented.
Prices will shoot up because the DTH operators will implement it that way. All existing channels will be made Default and they will make it awfully difficult to unsubscribe it. Call centers will not work, Website will be updated.

If the Default is NO, and customers are asked to subscribe to particular channels, then the DTH operators know that they are doomed. That is why they are playing their own sinister games.

Quote:
Yes. They are playing their own sinister games.
Quote:
I have a pretty good idea of what these buggers will eventually do. One fine morning (tentatively on Feb 1st) the amount remaining on a prorata basis for my packs will show up in my account. And they will default subscribe me to every damned channel they have on their platform on individual rates (logic=> we just continued with your earlier choice to go for the biggest pack to get all the channels, nevermind the fact that the channels I need were deliberately put in such bouquets that I had no option other than taking your catchall big pack).
Yes, migration from existing packs is DTH operators last ditch effort to loot the customers.

Quote:
So if I don't have a plan in place and don't step in time I will realize in 2 to 3 months that the remaining amount has got exhausted instead of the expected 6 months as per the current pack prices.
All the best with that. As I expect their (already poorly designed) websites will not allow to choose new plans or unsubscribe.

For all, just don't subscribe for 6 months. If possible subscribe the lowest pack available for a month.

Last edited by DigitalOne : 14th January 2019 at 17:12. Reason: Added information
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Old 14th January 2019, 18:06   #14
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

So here's a nice deception they are playing.

I have around Rs 1400 balance. Been getting messages and calls (not answered) stating that my Platinum pack will expire tomorrow. Giving the impression that screens go blank. On-line, I can only select Annual/Semi-Annual/Bi-ennial subscription.

Online - my balance is stated and an expiry of Feb 15th is given.

Strange

Call TataSky - I was told that

1: My Semiannual pack will end on 15 July but only the semiannual rate
2: My subscription will revert to a higher monthly rate.

They tried to give the impression that the DTH rate was uncertain. I said fine - charge me the slightly higher monthly rate till then
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Old 14th January 2019, 18:36   #15
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Default Re: Direct-To-Home television in India. Update DTH UHD (4K) now available

Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
Theoretically the costs will be lower for majority of subscribers.

The main difference between earlier regime and proposed regime is:

1. The concept of MRP per channel. And MRP is defined by the broadcaster.

2. Customer can just choose the base pack and few selected channels. For e.g. during ICC world cup if you just want to subscribe to couple of sports channels, then cost can be as low as Rs. 200 (base + 2 sports HD channels). So the ball is really in the consumers' court.

Secondly, if for example ICC WC is one channel, other sports channels may even drop MRP to retain viewership. This also should bring down prices for customers.

This change is similar to buying your choice of groceries every month, and buying the "bundled family packs" which every neighbourhood kirana is doing these days (5 litres of refined oil, 3 kgs of sugar and so on). For some the "bundled family packs" would probably work but not for a majority of families.
Theory is something that unfortunately only looks good on paper. The problem here is that what TRAI said is a lot like a pie-in-the-sky scenario. Unless they were assuming that every channel in the world will cost Re.1 I can't fathom how they arrived at this low cost theory. They have themselves propounded the carrier charges for each channel (capped though at Rs.120 I think). Again they are the ones who have mandated the compulsory addition of the base FTA channels at some Rs. 140 odd.

So from there when you start calculating you will soon realize that most people in B and C category cities/towns on the MSO platforms will always bust their budget compared to what they pay today. Even those on the inflated-cost packs of DTH guys will not see any respite, other than may be just about staying in and around a similar cost as earlier with some stretch without having all the channels that they earlier had.


And by the way, on that theory of world cup telecast on one channel will bring down the cost of others and thus bring viewers monthly cost down is also difficult to picture in the real sense. Here is why,

- Channels don't suddenly go and acquire telecast rights to the big events. They have planned expense outlay for the next couple of years at least and depending on that they bid for sporting events much before. These are a few known channels. You will see that this is either one of the Star Sports or Sony channels. And they are so well spread out between their different subchannels that you will find that you can't really drop any of them based on just one event (unless you wait 4 years for the FIFA WC and watch nothing else). Also, their prices will not go down because a particular event is happening on one particular channel. The other will showcase another big one 1 month down the line on their platform

- I don't think other than retired people most others have the kind of time to sit through the list of channels every month and keep dropping or adding channels. It sounds all good on paper but in reality may not pan out that way


Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
This charge could be any of the two below:

1. For every 25 FTA channels, you have to pay 20rs to the distributor. This is network carrying charge and goes into the DTH operator pocket.

2. It could be for paid channels also, and the amount again goes to the DTH operator as network carrying charge, since the channel cost goes to the broadcaster.

I am still not sure which of the above it is.
So as I suspected earlier, this is the carrier charge; which I think is Rs.1.2 per channel in SD and Rs.2.4 per HD channel. That bundle price of Rs.20, or whatever it is, must be a new addition due to the bouquets being allowed now. They have to keep that capped because they are also capped at Rs.120 approx per connection as carrier charges IIANM.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalOne View Post
Prices will shoot up because the DTH operators will implement it that way. All existing channels will be made Default and they will make it awfully difficult to unsubscribe it. Call centers will not work, Website will be updated.
I don't think that it is that bad. Anyhow, if TRAI receives too many complains about the operators making it difficult to switch/select plan then the DTH platforms will have an issue at hand.

What may happen though is that they will initially subscribe you roughly to all the channels that you used to get in your earlier subscribed packs. That will fall in the gray area where they will get benefit of doubt from the regulators. They will always defend on the lines that it is difficult to reach out to millions together at the same time and hence they have simply taken the channels that the viewer had subscribed to last through one of the packs. And if anyone wants a change they are free to do so.

They will simply hope that they will have many people whose carrier charges will be at the highest bracket (capped at Rs.120) and they will not be able to notice the cost difference between the earlier cost and the new so quickly to come back and request a change. As of today, under the new guidelines the DTH platforms only make money from the carrier charges and any VOD type of content.

One side effect of this ruling could be that you may start seeing a mark improvement in the VOD and other platform channels (like Active for TataSky) offerings because that will eventually start becoming a big revenue source for the DTH platforms... potentially much bigger than the carrier charges from each connection.

Last edited by Zappo : 14th January 2019 at 18:42.
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