India’s telecoms regulator (TRAI) has lodged an application before the Bombay High Court for a New Tariff Order. This is the second attempt by TRAI to see consumers protected from what it alleges could be “deceptive” practices by cable operators.
TRAI had initiated a similar action a year ago but was thwarted by local cable operators and including various trade bodies who succeeded in slowing the process in August 2020 and the Covid/lockdown problems affecting the Court. TRAI wanted the new rules to be in place by March 1st.
“It’s almost four months and the (court) order hasn’t come out. While we haven’t taken any coercive action, the consumers are suffering. So, we decided to request the court to pronounce the judgement and bring in clarity,” said a Trai official to India’s Economic Times.
TRAI says the new move (which it calls New Tariff Order 2.0) and which it says helps consumers to choose channels of their choice by ensuring that prices of a-la-carte channels are not deceptive, and where consumers could choose 200 channels of their choice for just Rs. 130 per month (about $1.80).
In a letter to India’s registrar general, Ashish Pyasi, associate partner at Dhir & Dhir Associates, which represents TRAI, said that the new tariff order is expected to bring more transparency and benefit to the consumers and because of non-implementation by the broadcasters, all benefits envisaged by the order are not being passed on to consumers.
The petition to the Court says: “NTO 2.0 recommends a linkage between a-la-carte price and bouquet by mandating that sum of the a-la-carte channels in a bouquet will not be more than 1.5 times that of bouquet price. It has also prescribed a condition that the maximum retail price of an a-la-carte channel should not be more than Rs. 12 per month to be part of the bouquet, which was Rs. 19 earlier”.