RIO rates offered to the MSOs by the 'Pay' Broadcasters under DAS for redistribution of the Pay TV content to the various LMO/ LCOs that are further offered to the consumers by their respective last mile service providers are against the mandate of digitisation increasing the subscriptions exorbitantly. In case the last mile service provider in the value chain, starts to charge a mere 30 % distribution and servicing cost from the consumers towards the cost / expense incurred on operations and collection of subscription dues, there will be a substantial increase in sub scription charges payable by the consumers, whereby if you calculate the price as per the RIO offered by the pay TV broadcasters for about 30 -40 channels in SD “Standard Definition” format including popular entertainment, sports and news channels that are actually being watched and subscribed now, add up the cost of servicing, collections, the Basic service tier, the applicable Service Tax and Entertainment tax, it will amount to not less than Rs. 300 to 350. This will be more than twice what the same customer is paying today, in stark contrast to what you had asked them in the form of ‘Trade off’ of Digitisation by reducing the cost to consumers.
Sports Channels Exploit the Consumers to no End
Even for watching Sports events of national importance once in a while, a consumer is forced to subscribe to all the sports channels, as every sports broadcaster has launched two to three sports channels under different names and divide the content of a sports event over all these channels, forcing the consumers to demand all these channels. Cricket series are invariably aired on various Sports channels. Even though Prasar Bharati run DD- Sports Channel is being run on tax payers contributions, to watch Sports events of National importance the same tax payer is forced to subscribe to all the Sports Channels offered by various Broadcasters.
A bare perusal of the attached RIO A- la- Carte rates offered to the Cable Service Providers and other distribution platforms by the Pay TV Broadcasters and their authorised Channel aggregators for per Subscriber per Month per TV Set basis will indicate how ridiculously high they are, affecting the common man.
Multiple TV Homes are the Worst Affected
A Subscriber home installs multiple TV sets at home for just pure convenience sake, same way like one installs air-conditioner or fan in each room but one switches them on when one needs them the most.
We request you to kindly depute some officials in your office to calculate the cost of pay TV channels offered as a-la-carte by a DAS operator as per the enclosed table (ANNEXURE-A) and as per their family choice/ requirement to see how much one would pay every month.
As these rates offered are to the MSOs and other distribution platforms, so consumer price will increase by 25- 35 % to cater for providing the last mile connectivity, cost of billing and collecting subscription dues by the LMOs and the applicable Service Tax and the State Govt. levy of the Entertainment Tax. The total will come out to be the cost incurred for Cable TV per Subscriber per Month per TV Set.
Consumers are Forced to Watch Unwanted Advertisements
Even after paying this high a cable TV subscription, the consumers are also forced to watch unwanted advertisements on these subscribed Pay TV Channels and also the same content/ programs are shown on different channels of the broadcaster, some of them just dubbed in different languages like Tamil, Telugu or Gujarati and some channels are created only for old episodes of the serials. For example, an English film dubbed in Hindi is first aired on Zee Cinema, thereafter the same film is repeated on Zee Action, Zee Premier, Star Gold, Movies OK, UTV Movies and UTV Action Movies etc.
Pay Channels Further allowed to Increase Rates
Surprisingly, subscription rates paid by subscribers were frozen by TRAI in 2003, when there were only 250 channels with about 80 channels as ‘PAY’. Today, because all consumer tariffs have been challenged by broadcasters in the courts, there is hardly any increase, but the number of channels have increased to 800 with 187 ‘PAY’ channels, increasing the revenue of broadcasters many folds as they force the MSOs and LMOs to pay them for all channels in their bouquets even if no payments come from subscribers. With SMS system getting fully operational soon, broadcasters have kept their RIO rates so high that even if a subscriber takes a few a-la-carte channels, he pays through his nose, nullifying the very purpose of mandating DAS. These ‘PAY’ channel rates will further increase as TRAI has allowed them another hike of 27.5% in two steps by January 2015, taking special permission from the Hon’ble Supreme Court to do so. It is difficult to comprehend how will the LCOs force subscribers to pay these high subscriptions when analogue is fully switched off in January 2015, on completion of DAS implementation in all the 100 million households.
As TRAI has miserably failed to do its entrusted responsibilities, we request you to kindly look into this on priority as this serious issue will adversely affect millions of consumers in the country who are yet to face such high price of pay channels because DAS is still not fully operational anywhere. In fact the way DAS is being implemented by the Regulator and the Ministry, our fears are coming true that everything is being planned for the good of a few multinational media companies and their distribution partners and not for the good of the common man or a small self employed businessman.