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Bill boon for small screen

With the roll-out of the second phase of the conditional access system (CAS) on hold, the ceiling imposed on cable tariff in non-CAS areas has come as a relief to subscribers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday capped cable bills at Rs 260 (plus tax) from December 1. The bouquet must consist of at least 30 free-to-air channels and 45 pay channels. The maximum charge for a bouquet of only free-to-air channels is Rs 77 (plus tax).

The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eighth Amendment) Order, 2007, states that the sum of the prices of channels forming a bouquet shall not exceed 1.5 times the price of the bouquet. The price of a channel also cannot be more than three times the average price of a channel in the bouquet.

The new rates will be applicable in areas other than Alipore, New Alipore, Behala, Chetla, Budge Budge, Garden Reach, Thakurpukur, Tollygunge, Haridevpur and Mahestala, where CAS was introduced in the first phase.

Subscribers in Golf Green, New Alipore, Park Street, Camac Street and some other areas currently pay more than Rs 350 a month as cable bill. But on the fringes, the same service is provided for Rs 80.

Broadcasters, too, practise differential pricing. In CAS areas, the maximum a broadcaster can charge for a channel is Rs 5 per month. In other areas, the monthly tariff for a channel could be as high as Rs 40.

“Cablemen and broadcasters will no longer be able to discriminate between consumers,” said an industry insider.

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