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‘TRAI will soon take up TV channels’ pricing issue’

Broadcast regulator TRAI is considering initiating a dialogue on issues related to the present mechanism of pricing TV channels after broadcasters raised their concerns about 'flaws' in the system.

'... Broadcasters spoke to me last week. We are trying to start a dialogue. Devise a solution,' TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar said, adding that he could not give any assurance to them on this issue for now.

On the recent recommendation on guidelines for TV rating agencies, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairmam said that the present system was 'broken' and it is getting fixed now.

'There were things which were broken like the TRP system, which is getting fixed and also the under-reporting of consumers which too is getting fixed with digitisation,' he said.

However, TRAI has supported self regulation and has stuck to its guns on its latest recommendations on rating agencies for television channels.
Khullar said there are some other issues like monopolies in cable sectors in some states, aggregators etc and they were being looked into.
On the issue of cross holding in the media, he said, 'I think it's a very difficult area but it is something which needs to be tackled because we simply cannot carry on the manner in which we have in the past.'

Meanwhile, Star India CEO Uday Shankar said that current pricing of channels was uneconomical and not viable for channels beaming quality contents.

'The pricing of channels was fixed several years ago and it is a fundamentally flawed concept that you say the pricing of all channels in the same category should be similar,' Shankar said.

Shankar, who was speaking on the sidelines of the CII Big Picture Summit, said the cost incurred by a movie channel that shows new movies is more than a channel that shows old movies. He also questioned why the prices of channels were fixed when competition itself could keep prices low.

'There are technological constraints which hamper those related to availability of spectrum,' he said. Khullar also said that terrestrial spectrum is for all practical purpose denied to the private sector and space spectrum KU band is also in severe shortage.

'From time to time here, we hear ambitious plans of getting every body linked and connected in three years and two years. I think we need to take that more with a pinch of salt and the reason I mentioned is that those of you who are looking at new forms of delivery of content and the wireless system of the delivery for applications and as well as content, it is a long distance today,' Khullar said.
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