New Delhi: With the Broadcasters wanting to retain status quo on New Tariff Order (NTO) while the Cable Operators and other stakeholders like Reliance JIO wanting a price reduction, the industry regulator TRAI seems to have fixed the Judgment day as 2nd or 3rd week of November.
TRAI’s Chairman RS Sharma, on the sidelines of the open house discussion on the subject in New Delhi, revealed that the modified set of rules on NTO is set for launch in the next 20-25 days, in-order to increase transparency in the pricing of television channels.
The statement comes in the wake of widespread complaints against NTO being favorable to broadcasters ‘undermining’ the purpose of NTO which was originally intended to allow consumers to pick and choose their TV channels in order to push unwanted channels down subscribers’ throats and help then to reduce the monthly subscription charges. Ever since the launch of NTO, both cable operators and consumer organizations have accused TV broadcasters of pricing their individual channels very high to force consumers to buy bouquets or packs that often contain junk or unwanted channels.
“The 2017 tariff order, which came into effect seven months ago after lengthy legal battles, were originally intended to benefit the consumer and give him the ability to choose the channels he wants.However, there are some things [in the new tariff order] that we need to rectify [to realize its aims],” Sharma said, talking to News18.
He added that the regulatory authority is seized of consumer complaints about how their cable bills have been inflated since the roll-out of the new system, and added that the planned tweaks are aimed at safeguarding their interests.
“Consumer is at the center of all these discussions. So it’s obvious that he will benefit,” he said in response to a question of whether the consumers can expect their bills to go down.
Asked if TRAI will also put hard limits on channel prices, number of packages and so on, Sharma said the regulator is not in favor of heavy-handed regulation.
“We don’t believe in control, but we want to ensure that the consumer benefits [from the new tariff scheme] with complete transparency.”
In a situation wherein, it is almost certain that TRAI will put in new clauses in the tariff order that will link the price of individual channels to the price of bouquets and packs, preventing broadcasters from making individual channels more expensive compared to packs.
Indian Broadcasting community that underwent a huge unrest in the wake of role out of NTO with fear of drop in revenues as well as viewership managed to sail through the uncertainty chapter and presently, its in the verge of settling down to a new normal. However, the proposed modification in NTO is likely to trigger another phase of bad period depending up-on the verdict of TRAI.
At present, a-la-cart price of the most popular channels stands at Rs 22.40 per month each that includes GST. Recently almost all leading broadcasters reduced the same to Rs 12+GST as part of their special pricing for Diwali season. Will TRAI take this as an indicator and keep this as the new benchmark…? Lets wait and see.