In March 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) notified the ‘New Regulatory Framework’ for Broadcasting and Cable services, which came into effect on December 29, 2018, as per which the customers had the freedom to select the television channels of their choice.
Unfortunately, once this framework came into effect, there came in innumerable complaints regarding improper execution of this rule. TRAI later through various techniques and tactics brought this problem under control.
Now, TRAI’s new tariff order 2020, or NTO 2.0 is confirmed to come into effect on March 1, not to forget that there’s already open cases going on against it in high court, regarding the same issue.
TRAI’s NTO 2.0
The cable operators along with DTH (direct-to-home) providers are together known as Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs).
The telecom regulator has directed the broadcasters and DPOs to publish the required information about this new tariff order on their respective websites, in order to allow customers to exercise their choice of channels and bouquets before March 1.
Earlier, TRAI had stated all broadcasters were required to report to the regulator and as well publish on their websites:
- any change in retail prices per month of channels and bouquets
- composition of bouquets by January 15.
It also instructed the DPOs to report and simultaneously publish on their websites:
- Network capacity fee
- distribution retail prices of pay channels
- composition of bouquets of pay channels
- composition of bouquets of free-to-air channels
- network capacity fee for additional connection beyond first connection in multi TV homes
- network capacity fee for long term subscriptions by January 30.
It also directed the service providers to inform the consumers on their websites the expiration of all those existing bouquets which do not conform to the provisions of Tariff Order 2020.
Unfortunately, despite the regulatory board’s efforts, these broadcasters and DPOs failed to report to Trai or publish the required information on their respective websites. It also noted that most of the existing bouquets of pay channels are not in compliance with the Tariff Order 2017 as per information on broadcaster channels.
TRAI Pretty Serious to Implement NTO 2.0 from March 1
As per TRAI, it is trying its best to implement the Tariff Amendment Order 2020 from March 1, 2020. It has insisted the service providers to ensure all the activities to be conducted in a timely manner so that the customers get ample time to choose from the channels before March 1.
The IBF, which represents the broadcasters in India has approached several local courts seeking relief from the Trai’s new amendments to the tariff regime. Amidst this war between TRAI and the broadcasters, it shall be interesting to see how broadcasters respond to this notice from the regulatory body.
Once the broadcasters publish their revised channel prices and packs on their respective websites, DTH & Cable TV operators will follow the same immediately.