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TRAI gives time till March 31 to consumers to choose channels under new regulatory regime

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New Delhi: TRAI has given time till March 31 for consumers to opt for channels of their choice under the new framework for broadcasting and cable services, the telecom regulator said.

In a statement, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it has also asked all distribution platform operators (DPOs) to create ‘best fit plan’ for its subscribers who have not exercised their options yet.

The ‘best fit plan’ shall be designed based on consumers’ usage pattern, language spoken and popularity of channels, TRAI said.

 

“The Authority extends time up to March 31, 2019 for exercising the option (of selecting channels) by such subscribers who have not exercised option yet. Subscribers will be free to change their ‘best fit plan’ at any date and time on or before March 31, 2019 and DPOs shall convert their ‘best fit plan’ into the desired (channels) pack within 72 hours from the time choice exercised,” the statement said.

There are about 100 million cable service TV homes and 67 million DTH TV homes in the country and approximately 65 percent of the subscribers of the cable services and 35 percent subscribers of the DTH services have already exercised the option of selecting the channels of their choice, it said.

The TRAI said though the new framework promotes consumer choice and enables the subscribers to pay for what they wish to view but “non-exercise of the option” should not create any inconvenience to the subscribers.

It said that in view of the larger public interest, all DPOs have been directed 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 the subscriber exercises his/her option, or he/she is migrated to the ‘best fit plan’, TRAI said.

It also clarified that there will be no ‘lock-in period’ till March 31 for the subscribers who have been migrated to ‘best fit plan’ by DPOs.

The TRAI, in March, 2017, had notified the new regulatory framework for Broadcasting and Cable services and re-notified it on July 3, 2018, prescribing the implementation schedule.

DPOs should ensure that payout per month of the ‘best fit plan’ generally does not exceed the payout per month of existing tariff plan of the subscriber, TRAI said.

The new framework came into affect on December 29, but TRAI had given time till January 31 for consumers to opt for channels of their choice under the new framework.

To assess to status of implementation of new framework, a meeting of all DTH operators and major Multi system Operators (MSO) was convened in the TRAI office on on Monday.

The operators informed that the implementation of migration was in full swing and the subscribers who have exercised their option have been migrated to new framework, the statement said.


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RBI Governor Das, bankers may not be on same page over passing rate cuts

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Mumbai: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das will meet bank chiefs to impress upon the need to improve transmission within the confines of it being a business decision. However, certain indicators suggest that bankers won’t be wrong in disagreeing with Das on the all-important rates issue.

So far, only State Bank of India (SBI) has reduced its home loan rates (up to Rs 30 lakh) by only five basis points (bps) after the policy rate cut of 25 bps on February 7.

High credit deposit (CD) ratio, with incremental ratio over 100 (indicating credit disbursement is more than deposit mobilisation) leaves banks with no room to cut deposit rate. They cannot cut lending rates without cutting deposit rates. Even when deposit rates are pared, because of their fixed nature, the cost of deposit doesn’t come down readily. Contrary to that, the lending rate cut immediately translates into hit on profitability.

 

Pallab Mahapatra, managing director and chief executive officer of Central Bank of India, said his bank’s marginal cost-based lending rate (MCLR) for one year and deposit rates are already lower than many large banks. For reducing loan rates further, the bank will have to cut deposit rates further, which would make the bank vulnerable to poaching for deposits from competing banks. And this, therefore, makes transmission a challenge.

One reason why the banking system is also increasingly getting vulnerable to rates is because the low cost current and savings account deposits (CASA) are running down as a share, whereas costly bulk deposits are increasing because of liquidity tightness in the banking system.

The system liquidity was running a deficit of more than Rs 1 trillion as on Tuesday, having improved from Rs 1.13 trillion on February 18. This is despite RBI’s bond purchases from the secondary market reaching about Rs 2.7 trillion. The liquidity deficit will only increase with tax-related outflow from companies in the coming days. “Liquidity is leaking from other channels also, for example, high currency in circulation (CIC) in an election year,” said a senior economist.

Latest data shows currency in circulation, as on February 15, was at Rs 21.06 trillion, compared with pre-demonetisation level of Rs 17.97 trillion. The growth in CIC on a year-on year basis was 18.4 per cent, much higher than the normal 13-14 per cent even in busy periods.

Clearly, the RBI’s record open market operations (OMO) was not enough when supply of bonds remained elevated, and while not much of dollars are flowing into the country.

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Growths set to slow down to 6-6.5% in H1 of 19: Nomura

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Mumbai: Despite the almost lose fiscal and monetary policies, the economy is likely to slow down to 6-6.5 percent in the first half of 2019, due to weak global demand, political uncertainty and tighter financial conditions, says brokerage report.

The Reserve Bank under the new governor had last week projected a GDP growth of 7.4 percent for 2019-20–7.2-7.4 percent in first half, and 7.5 percent in the second half.

“Consistent with our index, we expect GDP growth to slow from 7.1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018 to 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter and further to 6-6.5 percent in the first half of 2019,” Japanese brokerage Nomura said in a report Tuesday.

 

Citing the fall in the Nomura composite leading index fell to 99.9 in Q1 of 2019 from 100.1 in Q4 of 2018, indicating the business cycle is headed lower, at least into the first half of 2019, the report said.

“Fiscal and monetary policies are turning expansionary but are unlikely to change the near-term trajectory,” the report added.

The monetary and fiscal policies have shifted to easing mode, although it remains cautious on their near-term impact, it said.

“On fiscal policy, while we compute the fiscal impulse of the budget at 0.36 percent of GDP, we foresee implementation challenges ahead of the government’s ‘farm charm’ package,” it said.

On monetary policy, the RBI reaffirmed its focus towards headline inflation and its willingness to support growth, which suggests the February policy cut was not a ‘one and done’, it said.

“With its inflation projection remaining below the 4 percent target through 2019, and our assessment that growth will disappoint the RBI, we expect another rate cut in Q2 (very likely in the April review),” it said.

As the previous divergence between exceptionally low food and elevated core inflation closes, the report does not assess the need for a deeper rate cut cycle. It sees a 20 percent probability to a third rate cut in the third quarter.

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Indian economy fundamentals sound, set to reach USD 5 trillion: PM Modi

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Seoul: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said fundamentals of the Indian economy are sound and it is on the way to becoming a USD 5 trillion economy soon.

Addressing the India Korea Business Symposium here, he said India is now a more open economy and has attracted USD 250 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last four years. He said no other large economy in the world has grown at 7 per cent year after year.

India, he said, has jumped to 77th spot on the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking on the back of reforms and is determined to break into the top 50 next year.

 

The role of the government is to provide a support system, Modi said, adding that India has emerged as a land of opportunities.

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