The new regulations to be imposed on DTH providers by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) gives you the option to reduce your monthly bill by limiting your payment only to the channels that you subscribe to. You have up to the end of January to choose these channels and enjoy uninterrupted services from 1 February.
As per the BARC data studied by TRAI, about 80 percent of the subscribers do not watch over 40 channels and those viewing beyond 100 are very rare.
You will now be able to replace any of the channels from the base of 100 and if carefully thought through, you will be paying less than you used to after the new regulations.
New regulations on DTH that you should be aware of as a smart consumer:
- DTH service providers like Tata Sky, DTH TV or Dish TV can only charge a maximum of Rs 130 (including GST) for a set of 100 non-HD Free-to-Air (FTA) channels.
- You can choose to add a paid channel in the set but you will have to pay additional charges for it. Subscribing to individual channels is called a-la-carte subscription.
- Channel broadcasters like Sony, Star, Zee, Viacom and others get to decide which of their channels are FTA and those that are "pay channels".
- Broadcasters will also provide channel bouquets based on language or genre.
- The rates are decided by the broadcaster and this will be the MRP (maximum retail price). Your TV service provider (like Tata Sky or Dish TV) can offer you competitive deals below the MRP but not above it. Even the basic set of 100 channels can be provided at a rate below the MRP of Rs 130. For example, Airtel DTH and Tata Sky base packs start at Rs 99.
- If you wish to watch over 100 channels, you can choose them in slabs of 25 channels wherein the maximum cost of each slab would be Rs 20.
- TRAI reported that there as many as 330 pay TV channels from 40 broadcasters and this includes HD and SD. As for private FTA channels, there are as many as 535.
- Several broadcasters have announced bouquets of channels at discounted pricing. These are cheaper than purchasing the channels on the a-la-carte basis. For example, if you take a pack of 10 Sony Sports channels it would cheaper than subscribing to each of them individually on the a-la-carte basis.
- In these bouquets, an FTA channel cannot be clubbed with a pay channel and a standard definition channel cannot be clubbed with an HD version of the same channel. This is to allow clarity to the consumer on the types of channels on offer.
- One can buy a set-top box from the market rather than the service providers but it has to be technically compatible with the system of the service operator.
- Every DTH service provider is asked by the TRAI to run a customer information channel, preferably has to be channel number 999, with the pricing information on channels.
- Customers will be provided with uninterrupted service till 31 January but the services can be disrupted to all basic FTA channels only unless you migrate to a new plan by the end of the month.