On Thursday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has instructed broadcasters to inform customers about all of their bouquets which do not comply with NTO 2.0 and hence won’t be available to subscribe from 1st March 2020. TRAI asked to list such packs on the respective broadcaster’s websites so that consumers get sufficient time to exercise their choice of channels.
The regulator on 1st January amended and notified the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Tariff Order, 2017. As per the new changes, broadcasters were required to modify and publish their al-a-carte, bouquet prices and bouquet composition on their websites by 15 January. Similarly, the DPOs were required to reflect the modified channel and pack prices, NCF slab changes and reduced Multi TV NCF on their respective websites by 30 January.
However, several broadcasters under the umbrella of IBF have rejected the amendments brought by TRAI in the Tariff Order 2.0. They have moved to Bombay High Court on 13 January, opposing the amendments. The court refused to grant any stay on the order in the last 3 hearings. The hearing that was supposed to happen on 12 February has now been postponed to 26 February. As the matter is sub-judice, the broadcasters and DPOs did not comply with the amendments. There are also 3 other petitions filed in Madras, Kerala and Gujarat high courts on the amendments, pending disposition.
In light of these, TRAI observed that so far many broadcasters have neither reported nor published the requisite information in terms of NTO 2.0. The regulator said that most of the existing bouquets of pay channels available on the broadcaster’s website are not in compliance with the provisions of the latest tariff order amendments. Similarly, some of the DPOs have also not published the required information on their website, TRAI noted.
The authority said that the provisions of NTO 2.0 are coming into force from 1st March 2020 and several preparatory activities are needed to be carried out by service providers in a time-bound manner. TRAI instructed all the service providers concerned to take suitable steps so that a smooth transition takes place on 1st March 2020. It is expected that the authority will take a series of steps to avoid any disruption to the consumers on the said date. It is unclear as to what will happen to the packs that the consumers have already subscribed to and are incompatible with the NTO 2.0. Most of the consumers who are aware of the developments are eagerly awaiting their TV bills to be reduced post the implementation of NTO 2.0. We need to wait and watch what the courts will decide on the future of the order.