After February 1, TRAI’s new DTH rules apply: What changes, base price, channel prices, etc

After February 1, TRAI’s new DTH rules come into place with different packs and subscriptions for channels. Here’s what users need to keep in mind and why they need to choose their packs now.

The new rules for DTH and cable operators by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) come into effect on February 1, with January 31 being the new deadline for customers to choose the channels for which they wish to pay.

The premise is that these new DTH rules will make your cable television bill lower, at least from what it used to be. Here are three things to keep in mind about the new DTH, cable operator rules by TRAI.

February 1, 2019 is when the new DTH packs come into play

TRAI’s notice issued on December 28, revised the deadline to January 31. The earlier deadline for migration was December 29, 2018.

The notification reads, "Provided further that all distributors of television channels shall offer and obtain the option for subscription of new packs, plans or bouquets from the subscribers in compliance with the provisions of these regulations on or before 31st January, 2019 and shall ensure that services to the subscribers are provided as per the new packs, plans or bouquets opted for subscription by the subscribers only after 31st January, 2019."

This means the new plans will come into effect from February 1, 2019. TRAI has said that cable operators, DTH providers need to assure there is no blackout of television for customers, and that the transition should be smooth.

Read more: TRAI's new framework for DTH, cable operators: What will happen after Jan 31

TRAI’s order also says that no service provider can disconnect any signal/feed to a subscriber till January 31, 2019 on the pretext of implementation of new regulatory framework.

Base subscription is Rs 130, channel prices capped at Rs 19

With the new rules, customers now have to pay only for the channels which they watch. Many DTH operators like Airtel, DishTV, etc have already put out the base prices of each channel. TRAI says the idea with the new framework is that consumers will be able to choose to pay for channels of their choice on a-la-carte basis or in form of bouquets made by broadcasters as-well-as by the distributors.

The press release from TRAI declares, "The new framework provides for complete transparency on Pay Channel pricing structure whereby no distributor can charge above the MRP declared by a broadcaster." TRAI has fixed the price of channels to Rs 19, though with taxes, the prices of inpidual channels might show higher.

Airtel DTH’s a-la-carte menu, which has prices of inpidual channels listed.

The consumer will have to pay a basic fee of Rs 130 (plus taxes, which will come to Rs 154) and this will include a tier of 100 channels. TRAI also says companies, local cable operators cannot levy additional charges for providing any free to air channel.

"Any subscriber who opts for more than 100 channels can choose additional channels in each slab of 25 channels @Rs. 20 per slab," notes the recommendation. This is the the network capacity fee, which will charged extra to the Rs 130, plus taxes.

For instance, Airtel’s a-la-carte menu requires that users have to message about their inpidual choices to create their own pack. The prices shown for the channels are inclusive of taxes. The base channel pack will also include 26 channels from Doordarshan, which are free to air.

Overall with TRAI’s new rules you will be paying from Rs 150 plus minimum for the tier of 100 channels. For any special channels you wish to watch, you will have to pay extra. This is per month pricing. For HD channels, the prices will be higher, but then it also means you are not paying for an SD channel separately.

How can users check for new DTH, cable tv prices?

TRAI has already declared that DTH companies, local cable operators have to make the process easier for customers and make them aware of all the plans they are offering. Users can go to the website of Airtel and see the top-up option, which has the a-la-carte and combo prices listed out.

Airtel Digital TV has separate combo packs for Hindi entertainment channels, English movie channels etc, which have a per month cost. Dish TV has a similar list, both for inpidual channel prices as well as packs. Hathway, Siti Cable have also revealed their plan details.

The TRAI website has also listed the MRP of channels in bouquets as provided by their broadcasters. For users, it will be best to call up their inpidual cable or DTH provider and check the details. Remember inpidual channel prices for a monthly basis.

TRAI has said that the "new framework brings clarity and transparency in pricing by separating the network capacity fee and pay channel price," and that users can make an informed choice.

Keep in mind that popular channels like Sab TV, Star Plus etc are all paid in many of DTH companies’ pack costing Rs 19 in some cases.