The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been pushing DTH subscribers and cable subscribers to upgrade to the new tariff plans before the February 1 deadline. The regulator has been putting out notifications for the subscribers in every form and is requesting the subscribers to contact their respective provider to transition to the new plans and select their channels. However, even with so much going on, India’s largest DTH provider Tata Sky has not listed its channel packs and pricing and has asked its subscribers to wait for “tariff order to become applicable” and for “channel prices to be finalised”.
Tata Sky Delays Implementation of Tariff Framework
With such situation, subscribers of Tata Sky have been rendered helpless, and the court has also even warned Tata Sky that if it does not go ahead with the implementation of the new tariff scheme, then it will risk blacking out the screens for its subscribers. Trai gave an entire month’s period for the subscribers to complete the migration process, but two weeks of that period have already lapsed. In its latest reminder, Trai said, “Subscribers are requested to exercise their options well before January 31, 2019, to continue to view their favourite channels. Subscribers are also advised not to wait for the last minute to avoid any inconvenience.”
However, there has been no update from Tata Sky hinting towards when it plans to implement the new tariff framework. Also, the subscribers of Tata Sky have been worried as to when they will get to migrate to the new plans in such a short time. Tata Sky’s scroll currently reads, “After the new Trai tariff order becomes applicable and the channel prices are finalised, we will contact you and migrate your plan.” Tata Sky has further added, “This could take a few days. Till we connect with you, enjoy your current plan at the existing prices.”
Legal Struggle Delaying Implementation of Trai Scheme
There is also the legal point of view to consider in the entire affair about Tata Sky’s delay in Tariff implementation. It is worth noting that the DTH provider remains bound in a legal tussle with Trai in the Delhi High Court. The provider had reached the court asking for an interim stay and an extension of the tariff implementation deadline. The stay was granted, and no action was taken on Tata Sky even with a delay of ten days. However, the interim stay was only valid till January 10, and on Friday, the High Court clarified that there would be no further relief for Tata Sky. The court also warned Tata Sky of blacking out screens of its subscribers if it does not implement the new framework.
There have also been petitions filed by Airtel Digital TV in the Delhi HC, and in the Madras High Court by Star India. Madras High Court had also struck down on one of the provisions of the Trai order, after which Star India had appealed in Supreme Court, only to be dismissed on the grounds that Trai was well within its right to regulate the pricing of the individual channels. There is also a hearing next week in the SC with Trai, where the apex court will clarify whether it will uphold the curbs on differential pricing of channels and packs, if so, then the implementation of the entire tariff scheme will become much easier and it will result in a sharp decline in channel prices.