Mumbai: With Bombay High Court refusing to stay the amendments of TRAI’s tariff order on day 3 of the case hearing, Broadcasters are worried about the uncertainty prevailing over their future course of action.
This is due to the new rule that prompts them to update the subscribers well in advance before the implementation of any change in their pricing. According to the rules announced on 1st January 2020 any channel priced above Rs 12 cannot be included in any pack offered either by a Broadcaster or Distribution platform. Moreover, the new rules also say that any broadcaster has to give advance notice of 45 days before changing the price of a channel or pack.
Going by this rule Broadcasters are running out of time as the Cable and DTH operators will be publishing their new TV Channel and pack prices on 31st January 2020 so as to notify the consumer on the New Tariff that will come into effect from 1st March 2020.
As the owners of top-rated and most popular channels have refused to bring down their prices from the current level of Rs 19 per month, Cable and DTH companies will have to exclude almost all the popular channels such as Sun TV, Zee TV, Star Plus and Colors from all their packs when they publish the new pack and channel details on 31st January 2020.
The uncertainty of the court case left leading broadcasters including Zee Entertainment, Star India, Sony Pictures Networks and Viacom18 from giving any advance notice of a price reduction so far, hence these costly channels priced above Rs 12 cannot be included in any packs from 1st March 2020. As a result, users will be forced to activate these channels on the a-la-cart basis only.
As the Broadcasters are waiting for the resolution of the case filed by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the broadcasters are unable to decide on whether to keep their channel prices at Rs 19 permanently or reduce the price to meet the TRAI’s amendments.
In the petition, IBF has challenged TRAI’s decision to exclude any channel priced above Rs 12 from channel packs. They have also challenged certain other rules, claiming that such changes will make it difficult for them to carry on their business.
Bombay High Court bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and RI Chagla posted the matter for 12th and 13th February. Meanwhile, a petition listed before the Madras High Court by Sun TV Network challenging the new rules will come up for hearing on 4th February 2020.