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TRAI REGIME: A TRAI-L BY FIRE?

BY SAMARPITA BANERJEE (With inputs from DIPALI BANKA)

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Sony Pictures Networks India has launched the Happy India pack priced at Rs 31 per month for nine channels. Sony has introduced 16 bouquets, starting from Rs 31 for the Sony Silver Pack which will have Sab, Set Max, Max 2, Sony Yay!, Pal, Sony Wah, Mix and Sony Marathi to Rs 90 for the Sony HD Platinum Pack, offering 18 channels. Times Network announced its channel packs in three categories - Times Network News Pack, Times Network Value Pack and Times Network HD Premium Pack where the value pack includes a mix of channels including Times Now, ET Now, Mirror Now, Zoom, Movies Now, MNX and Romedy Now. The other variant packs include Times Network News Pack at Rs 5 that includes English news channels, their Bollywood entertainment channel Zoom and Times Network HD Premium Pack at Rs 20 which includes all SD (non-simulcast) and HD channels of the network.

In the South market, major players have come up with individual pricing too. Moreover, major DTH operators like Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV have also announced their new channel pack pricing.

GUIDELINES & IMPLICATIONS
As part of the new regime, pay and FTA channels cannot be a part of the same bouquet, which has resulted in broadcasters converting some of their previous FTA channels to pay channels/bouquets under the new regime. The aim is to make sure that people subscribe to some of the less popular channels too.

Data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India has revealed that out of the 300 channels bundled together, 50% of consumers do not watch more than 30 channels. In such a scenario, is there a chance of less popular channels slowly phasing out? Karan Taurani, VP- Research (Media sector) Elara Capital, feels the move will have a negative impact on niche channels. “Niche channels of large broadcasting groups, which are not included in any bouquet, will fade out in terms of viewership as consumers will not look at buying them on a-la-carte basis,” Taurani says.

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