TRAI may review forbearance allowed to broadcasters as prices of a-la-carte channels set to increase

TRAI said that broadcasters are exploiting the freedom to price a la carte channels and it's an attempt to defeat the purpose of the NTO 2.0.

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By Abhinav Kumar

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As broadcasters release their new Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) following NTO 2.0 it is becoming clear that the TV bills are going to increase significantly and customers have to shell out more money for entertainment.

The regulations brought by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which were supposed to reduce channel prices are being proved to have failed as no one is satisfied with the outcome. Customers are at loss because of hiked prices, broadcasters are going to lose viewers and TRAI has got the opposite of the result they had expected. 

Now, on Friday, the regulatory body broke its silence and came forward to express displeasure over the new prices declared by broadcasters. Without accepting any flaw in the tariff order, TRAI said that broadcasters are exploiting the freedom to price a la carte channels and it reflects their intention to increase the cost of popular channels. 

The regulator reiterated that NTO 2.0 is not the cause of price hike and stated that a misleading campaign is being run to blame the tariff order amendment for increase in prices. “NTO 2.0 does not entail or prescribe any condition for increasing prices”, said TRAI.

It defended the tariff order saying its purpose was to bring down prices and ensure no service provider corners undue gains at the expense of consumers. The price hike in the name of complying with NTO 2.0 is false and an attempt to defeat the purpose of the amendment.

It further added that the newly announced prices for some channels are unsustainable as these are not demand-driven or market-determined prices and are against the interest of consumers. According to TRAI, once NTO 2.0 is implemented in its true letter and spirit, it will bring in an era of transparent tariffs and usher in better channel content at the most competitive prices. 

The authority is monitoring new developments and assured viewers that it may review certain provisions including the forbearance clause which allows broadcasters to freely price a la carte channels for the larger interest of consumers and the broadcasting sector. 

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Abhinav Kumar


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Abhinav is the Editor-in-Chief at DreamDTH with over 5 years of experience in covering industry developments. He is passionate about staying appraised of the latest developments in the industry and bringing forth their shortcomings. Specializing in DTH, television, broadcasting, and the entertainment sector, Abhinav is dedicated to exploring the happenings in these dynamic fields. Outside of work, he indulges in podcasts and audiobooks and enjoys unwinding with light-hearted, sci-fi, and thriller shows.

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A week after broadcasters announced their new channel pricing that jacks up the cost for the consumers, TRAI has stepped in to assert that it will review the current provisions in the NTO 2.0 to check the spiralling cost.

TRAI officials told BusinessLine that some broadcasters are “exploiting” the freedom available in the new framework for pricing of a-la-carte television channels. Forbearance clause gives broadcasters freedom to price their a-la-carte channels as they choose. A-la-carte channels are those that are not part of a bouquet. TRAI is considering reviewing this clause to protect consumer interest.

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Atleast TN cable operators have spine!

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