Mumbai: With Bombay and Madras High Courts refusing any immediate reprieve to Broadcasters and DPOs from implementing the amendments to new TRAI rules, they were forced to face the comply with the order of the industry regulator with effective from 1st March 2020. While most of the DPOs and Broadcasters are still clueless on their rollout strategy leading DTH operators Tatasky and Airtel DTH had partially implemented the amended tariff order to the effect of NCF charges while they haven’t implemented any visible changes to their existing packs.
The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order issued by TRAI says, “Every distributor of television channels shall offer to all subscribers each bouquet of pay channels offered by a broadcaster, and for which interconnection agreement has been signed with that broadcaster, without any alteration in its composition and declare the distributor retail price, per month, for such bouquet payable by a subscriber… provided further that such bouquet shall not contain any pay channel for which maximum retail price per month declared by the broadcaster is more than rupees twelve..”
With the above changes, TRAI had asked cable and DTH operators not to sell any pack containing any channel which is priced above Rs 12. This was done to put pressure on channels to bring down their prices and reduce the monthly subscription bill of consumers. Two weeks ago, TRAI had reiterated its firm stand with a reminder to all Cable and DTH operators that the new rules will come into effect on 1st March and they must put the necessary infrastructure in place to implement it. However, despite the reminders, most industry participants seem to be in no mood to implement any of the provisions barring the basic steps initiated by Tata Sky and Airtel DTH.
The first step by Tata Sky and Airtel DTH:
In its first step towards implementing the NTO 2.0, Tata Sky has reduced the network charge or NCF. Now, customers of Tata Sky can avail 200 channels for Rs 130 plus tax. Beyond 200 channels, they will have to pay an extra Rs 30 plus tax as NCF. Under the amended TRAI tariff order, the maximum network charge that any cable or DTH operator can levy is Rs 160 plus tax, no matter how many channels the subscriber has activated. Similarly, Airtel Digital customers are being charged a network charge of only Rs 153 including tax, for up to 200 channels.
While they have taken baby stamps to comply with NTO 2.0, the huge challenge remains before them is to roll out channel packs in compliance with the amended order. The process totally depends on how broadcasters react to the situation and who is going to blink first from the Broadcasters side.
Broadcasters were unable to get any specific direction or stay on the implementation of the amended TRAI tariff order from Bombay High Court despite holding around 7 hearings and three days of marathon hearing on the changes introduced.
With the Bombay HC hearing the case today, all eyes are eagerly awaiting today’s outcome that will decide the future of NTO 2.0 rollout.