New Delhi: TRAI has released amendments to regulatory framework (aka) New Tariff Order (NTO) notified in March 2017 based on the comments and suggestions from various stakeholders related to the two Consultation Papers to address certain tariff and interconnection related issues.
The amendments to regulatory framework (NTO) that came into effect from 29th December 2018 after satisfying legal pronouncements was necessitated as the Authority felt, require some changes and are pivotal to achieve the overall objective of the regulatory framework notified in March 2017. Subsequently, TRAI has presented two consultation papers related to ‘Tariff related issues for Broadcasting and Cable services’ on 16th August 2019; and ‘Issues related to Interconnection Regulation, 2017’ on 25th September 2019. The Authority analysed the comments of the stakeholders particularly to protect the interests of consumers and accordingly modified certain provision of new regulatory framework (dubbed NTO 2.0)
Conditions on a-la-carte and bouquet pricing:
In order to address the issue of huge discount in formation of bouquets by the broadcasters vis-a-vis sum of a-la-carte channels, the Authority prescribed following twin conditions to ensure that price of a-la- carte channels does not become illusionary:
- The sum of the a-la-carte rates of the pay channels (MRP)forming part of a bouquet shall in no case exceed one and half times the rate of the bouquet of which such pay channels are a part; and
- The a-la-carte rates of each pay channel (MRP), forming part of a bouquet, shall in no case exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is a part.
Additionally, Authority decided that only those channels, which are of Rs.12 or less will be permitted to be part of the bouquet offered by broadcasters.
200 Channels for NCF of Rs 130 without including DD channels:
TRAI has examined various provisions in detail and accordingly mandated provision of 200 channels in maximum NCF of Rs.130 excluding taxes per month. In addition, it has also been decided that channels declared mandatory by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will not be counted in number of channels in the NCF. DPOs have also been mandated that they will not charge more than Rs.160 per month for giving all channels available on their platform.
Lower NCF for multi-TV home:
Addressing the issue of huge charges taken by DPOs in the form of NCF for a multi-TV home. TRAI has decided that in case of multi-TV home where more than one TV connection is working in a home in the name of one person, will charge maximum 40 per cent of declared NCF for second and additional TV connections. Authority has also permitted DPOs to offer discounts on long term subscriptions which is for 6 months or more.
TRAI also considered the concern of broadcasters regarding huge carriage fee being charged by DPOs. In order to address the concern of huge carriage fee, the Authority has mandated that MSOs, HITS operators, IP TV service providers will not have target market bigger than State or Union Territory as the case may be. In addition, a cap of Rupees One lakh per month has been prescribed on carriage fee payable by a broadcaster to a DPO in a month for carrying a channel in the country.
DPOs barred from Changing LCNs in EPG
Authority has also considered giving more flexibility to DPOs to place the TV channels on Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and mandated that channel of a language in a genre will be kept together while placing channels on EPG. Such EPG lay out is to be mandatorily reported to the TRAIand no change in this can be done without prior approval of the Authority. This will address the concerns of the broadcasters to a great extent to protect them as it will not allow DPOs to frequently change the LCN of the television channel in case they do not agree to their mandates.
Timeline for NTO 2.0 rollout:
The amendments provide appropriate time to stakeholders for implementation. Broadcasters are required to publish revised MRP of a-la-carte channels and bouquets on their website by 15th January 2020 and DPO are required to publish revised DRP of a-la-carte channels and bouquets on their website by 30th January 2020. Consumers will be able to benefit as per the amended provisions with effect from 1st March 2020. The Authority is of the view that the amendments will usher in better consumer offerings, more flexible tariff schemes and more choices for consumers.
Some of the major issues addressed in NTO 2.0 were cap on maximum discount permissible to broadcasters while forming a bouquet, number of channels permitted in Network Capacity Fee (NCF), applicable NCF for multi TV homes, flexibility to Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) in offering long term subscription plans and carriage fee payable by broadcasters to DPOs.