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DPOs must pay broadcasters new tariff from February: IBF

DPOs must pay broadcasters new tariff from February: IBF

Mumbai: Distribution platform operators (DPOs) will have to pay broadcasters based on the new pricing starting this month, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has said. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) earlier noted that only 65 percent of cable services subscribers and 35 percent of DTH subscribers have migrated to the new MRP regime, prompting it to extend the deadline to March-end for those who haven't migrated.

"Effective from February 2019 onwards our member broadcasters will be raising invoices on DPOs in accordance with the provisions stipulated by Trai under the new MRP regime," IBF said in a statement. The IBF issued the statement regarding the pricing after DPOs sought clarification following Trai decision to extend the deadline to March 31, 2019 to those subscribers who have not yet migrated to new tariff regime. The foundation also said its member broadcasters have executed the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIOs) under the new MRP regime with the DPOs and have implemented the new MRP regime effective February 1, 2019 as mandated by TRAI.

"Thus, all DPOs are statutorily bound to adhere to the provisions of the new MRP regime. Accordingly, DPOs are hereby requested to provide their monthly subscriber reports as mandated under the new MRP regime in respect of each of their subscribers on the duly notified dates — 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of every month," IBF said.

As per the new tariff regime, which came into effect from February 1, viewers can pick and choose the channels they wish to watch and pay for only those selected, rather than the earlier system of paying for a bundle of channels that were being pushed to viewers at a fixed rate.

The order was created to bring in transparency and empowering the audience, who were earlier offered packs by DTH and cable TV operators without much choice of selection. On Wednesday Trai asserted that operators cannot charge TV viewers more than their usual monthly outgo under the 'best fit plan' to be offered during the transition period, and cautioned that the regulator will take action on any such complaint.

"Trai has clearly asked distribution platform owners (DPOs) to ensure that for consumers, the monthly outgo under the best fit plan should not exceed the payout per month of existing plan of the subscriber," said Trai Secretary S K Gupta. Gupta said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is monitoring the situation and will take action on consumer complaints, if any, on the issue.

"Trai has directed DPOs to give best fit plan to customers who have not exercised their option as of now, in order to protect their interest and ensure that they do not face any inconvenience," Gupta said.

Trai on Tuesday gave time till March 31 for consumers to opt for channels of their choice under the new framework for broadcasting and cable services. It had said that the best fit plan should be designed based on consumers' usage pattern and language spoken.

The regulator had said that subscribers will be free to change their best fit plan at any date and time on or before March 31, 2019 and the DPO will convert their best fit plan into a desired pack (opted by the consumer) within 72 hours of subscribers making their channel preferences known.

The subscribers' old plan will continue till either subscribers make their channel preference clear, or is migrated to the 'best fit plan'.

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