The new regulations on paid and free- to- air channels of India’s Telecom Regulation Authority will enter into force at midnight on 28 December. From 29 December, viewers can choose what they want to pay for and they won’t have to subscribe to channels they never watch.

What does it mean for the consumer, however? Is your cable bill going to cost more? Will there be a TV Channel blackout? What will be the impact on cable and DTH operators and television broadcasters? ET tries to answer all these questions in the classroom and clears the air on the new order.

From now on, multiple system operators or MSOs offer a packed channel package. MSOs like Tata Sky or DishTV, Airtel, Hathway, etc. select and offer random channels to consumers. But consumers will have to select individual channels after 29 December, which they want to see.

Major features:

The main features include mandatory display of all channels and their rates, choice of a la carte channel subscription( can be ordered as separate items) and channel bouquets( combo packages), separate pay channel bouquet and free- to- air( FTA) channels and standardization of service- related information.

The measures also mandate broadcasters and distributors, in respect of all channels, including those not subscribed, to obtain consumers ‘ permission to change their subscribed packages and to display the Electronic Program Guide( EPG).

These measures will be implemented in phases in the next six months’ time.


Trai believes that the goals— transparency and real choice for customers— were not achieved even after the mandatory transformation from analog to digital cable television systems in March 2017. The whole framework was therefore thoroughly reviewed. While Trai said that it was motivated to create a conducive growth environment, different stakeholders did not. In the context of the Madras High Court, Star India’s Vijay TV has even challenged the regulator’s jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the HC Ordinance in favor of Trai following a long legal battle on 30 October 2018 to pave the way for the tariff order to be implemented.


Trai Chairman said that the authorities are working on a transition plan in conjunction with broadcasters and DPOs and that no blackouts occur during that time.


Under the new regime, distribution platforms can charge the network capacity fee of 100 channels to a maximum of 130 subscribers. These 100 channels include 24 compulsory Prasar Bharati channels. A customer can then select free air channels or pay channels. For FTA channels, it won’t have to pay extra; only the price of channels / bouquets should be paid separately if it is payable on the pay channels. If a subscriber chooses to use more than 100 channels, he must pay a further capacity charge of?20 per 25 channels.


A large number of TV channels, many of whom are not used at all, are currently provided to viewers. Subscribers are not pushed under the new framework. Trai considers that the amounts payable to the consumer may be even lower when choosing a channel of choice than the current monthly payments.

However, the new rules have created confusion among users. In an exclusive interview with TRAI secretary SK Gupta, to clear up the confusion, India TV brings you:

Question: What is going to happen exactly on 29 December?

Ans: I want to make it clear first of all that on the 29th December you won’t have your channels off air, nothing like that will happen. Our new regulations are mainly aimed at providing consumers with the channels they want to monitor rather than the 200-300 channels. One of the elements of the new regulation is that channels will show the costs of each channel, although they are free. The consumers are therefore aware of what they pay for.

Question: Is the new regulation going to make television cheaper or more costly?

Answer: TV watching is cheaper in accordance with new rules, since you’re paying for what you eat. Your final bill is lower than your current bill.

Question: On December 29, is my TV going out of air?( A member asked from audience)

Ans: The right framework allows users to choose channels within a specified time. On December 28 or 29, TV channels won’t go off- air. But be sure to select your channels and inform your cable or MSO operator of the same within a specified timescale.

Question: My cable operator says that new regulations make charges steeper, is that true? (From audience)

Answer: If you want to receive all 300 channels today, your cable operator is right. Answer: But nobody looks at all 300 channels. The data from BARC we receive indicates that over 50% of users view fewer than 30 channels, including Free to Air channels. It will be cheaper for you if you choose channels to watch.

Question: How does the free channel differ from the paid channel?

Answer: The broadcaster determines the cost of the channel. It is free to air, but it is categorized as a pay-channel when you say that the channel is to be given free to us. The broadcaster determines the cost of the channel. But if the channel cost is higher than Rs 19, it can not be bouqueted without informing the user. Without this information.

Question: Do Rs 130 provide 100 FTA channels?

Rs 130 is the cable connection’s static cost. Just like we have paid a fixed telephone bill, consumers pay Rs 130 for their TV connection regardless of their use. With the connection, 100 channels are free. Pay channels are charged according to their cost.

Question: What are the provisions for a short- term suspension of the connection?(From audience)

Answer: If the consumer is interested in suspending the connection up to three months, they will only have to pay Rs 25 when the connection is restarted, if the length is long, they can only start to pay Rs 100 for it. No installation costs or monthly connection costs must be reimbursed.

In the meantime, Trai said no bouquet shall include any channel of MRP exceeding Rs 19 per month. Gupta said it would lead to competition that would improve broadcasters ‘ content.

Trai has also published Interconnection Regulations for Television Broadcasting Services, which regulate broadcasting interconnection arrangement and the placement of television networks in the EPF.