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TRAI recommendations should be rejected: Star India

business Updated: Jul 28, 2010 12:46 IST

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Leading broadcaster Star India today hit out at regulator TRAI for 'shocking' recommendations for DTH tariff, saying that this would wreak havoc in the industry, and that it would seek rejection of the same legally.

"The way they (recommendations) are at the moment, it should be outrightly rejected...We will ask the apex body IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) for challenging it in court," Star India head Uday Shankar said.

He charged that the recommendations not only deprived the consumer of choosing a channel but also failed to address the revenue leakage through under-declaration by cable operators and theft.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had last week fixed the wholesale tariff to be paid to broadcasters for TV channels by DTH and IPTV service providers and cable operators in conditional access system areas at 35 per cent of the corresponding rates for normal cable operators.

"Current TRAI recommendations will weaken the broadcast sector in the short term and much more in the long run," Shankar said.

Besides, TRAI had recently submitted before the Supreme Court that the maximum monthly bill for cable TV should be at Rs 250 per month, which includes the basic package and more than 20 pay channels and the minimum at Rs 100 for up to 30 free-to-air channels.

Shankar said the regulator has failed to address the larger issue of under-declaration of subscribers by local cable operators and theft that is affecting the entire broadcast industry.

"There is nothing (in the TRAI recommendations) that talks about fixing underdeclaration...It was one opportunity that TRAI had of addressing the issue of under-declaration and theft, which it has lost," he said.

Besides, Shankar said TRAI recommendation has deprived consumers, who are willing to pay more for niche channels, of choice.

"If I want to watch a western classical channel and I'm willing to pay for it, then why should I not get it? The consumer choice has been completely disregarded," he said.

On the issue of wholesale tariff for channel signals to DTH, IPTV and CAS cable operators, Shankar said: "What is the logic of 35 per cent? It gives the impression that there is an exact science there, whereas it's a completely random thing."

Earlier it was at 50 per cent, which was always designed as a temporary measure, he added.

Shankar said that while TRAI did have discussions with various stakeholders, the decision by the regulator has shocked the broadcasting industry.

"We were completely taken aback by the recommendations. It has come as a shock," he said.