The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday extended till March 31, 2019, the deadline for broadcasters and cable operators to migrate their consumers to the new regulatory framework.

The new regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable services came into effect on December 29, 2018, but in order to provide sufficient time to subscribers for exercising their options, the regulator had provided time till January 31, 2019. All the Distribution Platform Owners (DPOs) were required to migrate subscribers as per their choice with effect from February 1, 2019. Now, the regulator has extended this period till March 31, 2019.

There are around 100 million cable service TV homes and 67 million DTH TV homes as so far around 65% of the subscribers of the cable services and 35% of the DTH services have exercised the options, Trai said in a statement adding that it was brought to the notice of the Authority that as the system of selecting channels has been introduced for the first time in the country, some subscribers were facing difficulties in selecting the channels of their choice.

“In some cases, local cable operators (LCOs) have not been able to reach out to subscriber to create awareness among them and collect the options. Many subscribers may be required to go to nearest Point of Sale (PoS) for exercising their option as they did not have access to IT facility or have not comfortable in using IT system to exercise their options. A few cases have been reported recently where pay channels of the subscribers who have not exercised the options have been deactivated. Such incidences are causing hardship to the subscribers,” Trai said.

Trai, on Monday, met all the DTH operators and major Multi-system Operators (MSO), who informed that implementation of migration was in full swing and subscribers who have exercised their option have been migrated to a new framework.

Trai has requested all the DPOs to create a ‘Best Fit Plan’ for their subscribers who have not exercised their options yet. The plan shall be designed based on consumers’ usage pattern, language spoken and popularity of channels. While designing the plan, DPOs should ensure that payout per month of generally does not exceed the payout per month of existing tariff plan of the subscriber.

“In view of the larger public interest, the authority directs all DPOs that those subscribers who do not exercise their options shall be migrated to a ‘Best Fit Plan’. The subscribers’ old plan shall continue till either subscriber exercise his/her option, or he/she is migrated to the ‘Best Fit Plan’. The authority hereby extends time up to March 31, 2019, for exercising the option by such subscribers who have not exercised option yet,” Trai said.

It added that subscribers will be free to change their ‘Best Fit Plan’ at any date and time on or before July 31, 2019, and DPOs shall convert their plan into the desired pack (channel/Bouquet) within 72 hours from the time the choice is exercised by the subscriber. There will be no lock-in period for the subscribers till March 31, 2019, who has been migrated to the ‘Best Fit Plan’ by DPOs, it added.