Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services

  • 09 Jul 2024

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) has issued amendments to the regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable services, including changes in network capacity fees and discounts that distribution platform operators can offer.

Key Points

  • TRAI has removed the ceiling on network capacity fee (NCF) of ₹130 for 200 channels and ₹160 for more than 200 channels. The fee will now be driven by market forces.
  • To ensure transparency, all charges have to be mandatorily published by service providers and communicated to consumers, besides reporting to Trai.
  • Distribution platform operators (DPOs) have been allowed to offer discounts of up to 45% while forming their channel bouquets to enable flexibility and provide deals to consumers. Earlier, this discount was limited to 15%.
  • A pay channel available at no subscription fee on the direct-to-home (DTH) platform of the public service broadcaster has to be declared free-to-air by the broadcaster for all addressable distribution platforms so as to have a level-playing field.
  • With the rise of high-definition (HD) television sets and to promote HD content transmission, the distinction between HD and standard definition (SD) channels has been removed for carriage fee purposes. A single ceiling for the carriage fee has been established, giving DPOs the option to charge a lower fee as appropriate.

Standard Definition (SD): SD is typically used for older television sets and content where high resolution is not necessary. The image quality is less sharp and detailed compared to HD, but it requires less bandwidth and storage space. A a video resolution lower than HD. The common SD resolution is:

480p: 720 x 480 pixels (also known as DVD quality)

High Definition (HD): Refers to a video resolution significantly higher than Standard Definition (SD). HD offers clearer, sharper, and more detailed images. There are various levels of HD, but the most common resolutions are:

  • 720p: 1280 x 720 pixels
  • 1080p (Full HD): 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 1440p (Quad HD): 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • 2160p (4K Ultra HD): 3840 x 2160 pixels


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was, thus, established with effect from 20th February 1997 by an Act of Parliament, called the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.