Visakhapatnam Apartments Residents Welfare Association writes to CM Naidu on TRAI guidelines

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TRAI’s newly introduced tariff guidelines for cable TV and direct to home (DTH) connections, which came into effect from early February, have been drawing mixed reactions from different sections. Highlighting a few of the possible repercussions of the new rules, the Visakhapatnam Apartments Residents Welfare Association (VARWA) has requested the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, to take up the issue with TRAI to either reverse the new tariff order or reduce the maximum cap levied on “paid” channels.

Here’s the letter written by the Visakhapatnam Apartments Residents Welfare Association (VARWA) VARWA to the state’s Chief Minister:

“We draw your attention to the following few lines with a request to take up with the TRAI to keep the TV channels affordable to the poor, common and middle-class people.

As you are aware, New Tariff Regulations of TRAI came into force with effect from 1st February 2019. TRAI says the new regulations are brought with the aim of benefitting the viewers and to give them freedom of choice.

It is a fact that every household family enjoys TV by viewing various channels. Television provides news, entertainment, knowledge etc. Presently, people are getting the TV transmissions through a cable network, Dish, and Internet at reasonably affordable prices. For example, the cable network facility is available at Rs.150/- to Rs.250/- per month.

Cibil report estimates that in the New Tariff regime, the burden on the consumers would increase by a minimum of 25%. A consumer paying Rs.230/- per month has to shell down a minimum of Rs.300/- plus taxes per month for getting the same channels as was viewed in the past.

There are a few free to air channels most of which are not popular. Since TRAI fixed the max Prices of Rs.19/- as a cap, paid channels are priced at Rs.0.25 to Rs.19/-. Even though the broadcasters get huge income through advertisements, the majority of the entertainment, sports, knowledge channels are either priced at Rs.19/- or near the maximum cap. Since we are paying for the pay channels, advertisements are not supposed to be allowed in pay channels. In addition to this, the broadcasters are bundling the unwanted pay channels with popular channels and forcing the consumers to go for the bundle voluntarily. It is nothing but pushing the consumers into a corner of an inevitable situation.

CIBIL report estimates that Corporate Broadcasters will gain by over 40% with the new tariff. With an ownership on popular channels, high capacity marketing tricks and greater advertisement income, the corporate broadcasters will gain immensely and capture greater pricing power.

It is very difficult for the Local network distributors to convince and convert their consumers to the new system which is costly and retain their consumers. They will suffer in the process and the cable workers will lose their employment.

There are around 1 crore users in the state out of which 90% are poor and middle-class people. All of them have to bear the brunt of the new tariff regulations for the benefit of corporate broadcasters and suffer.

Hence, we request you to take up with the TRAI for either reversing the New Tariff Order or for reducing the maximum cap to half the level and ensure that majority of the channels are priced at as less as possible in the interest of the poor and middle-class people, and save local cable operators and the related workforce.”

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