The ministry sent a reference to the broadcasting sector regulator, following a request by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) seeking its intervention in the matter.
The issue has the potential to snowball into a turf war between the government and the regulator, as TV channel pricing falls under Trai’s domain.
In a letter to the Trai secretary, the ministry asked the regulator to positively consider the request of the AIDCF, which had filed a submission to the ministry after Trai decided not to include this issue in the consultation paper.
A Trai official told ET that its legal team is studying the ministry letter, and that the regulator will make a decision based on the opinion of the legal team. “As a regulator, Trai doesn’t need to respond to every letter that it receives,” he added.Under the Trai’s new tariff order (NTO) regime, distributors are not allowed to break broadcaster bouquets and must offer them to consumers without making any changes. This allows broadcasters to create bouquets in such a way that their driver channels get maximum reach.Prior to the implementation of the NTO, distributors were free to create their own bouquets as the content deals with broadcasters happened on a fixed fee basis.Under the NTO, broadcasters charge MRP for a la carte channels and bouquets directly from consumers while the distributors act as intermediaries between consumers and the broadcasters.
In its representation to the ministry, the AIDCF, which is the apex body of cable TV service providers, said consumers will have to pay 21% less subscription charges every month if the distributors are allowed to break the broadcast bouquets.
The federation also wrote to Trai on August 17, asking it to publish a comprehensive consultation paper that covers all the important concerns pertaining to the TV distribution sector.