The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) directed broadcasters to ensure compliance of the new tariff order (NTO 2.0), which was notified on January 1st.
The move is expected to significantly impact the business models of broadcasters.
Trai has sought details of all the channels and bouquets from the broadcasters by August 10th. These include name, nature, language, MRP of channels and bouquets per month.
The regulator has also asked the broadcasters to amend their reference interconnect offer (RIO) in compliance with the provisions of NTO 2.0 and publish on their respective websites.
Broadcasters find the timing curious as NTO 2.0 is subjudice in the Bombay high court. Hearing the plea of top television broadcasters, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), and the Film & TV Producers Guild of India, the court had reserved its judgement on March 4th, while not providing any interim relief to the broadcasters.
Trai said in its directive that while no interim order was passed by the court restraining the regulator from implementation of the tariff order, Trai did not take any coercive steps or measures, as the order was expected to be pronounced shortly.
Trai has maintained that while the matter was under consideration of the court, the authority received and continues to receive a large number of complaints from consumers.
Trai said that it was expected that the broadcasters would implement the provisions of NTO 2.0 in the interest of consumers; some broadcasters have failed not only to implement the new regulatory regime, but have also started violating the original tariff order of 2017.
“Trai being the sector regulator enjoined to protect the interest of the consumer, had maintained patience,” the directive said. “…such broadcasters, in utter disregard to the settle principles, are changing the service offerings in violation of NTO 2.0.”
The move will cost broadcasters dearly as it will severely impact their channel pricing ability.
With the amendments, Trai had reduced the cap on the MRP of individual channels, which were part of any bouquet, to Rs 12 per month, from earlier Rs 19. The regulator also imposed twin conditions for the bouquet formation, which restricts the discount on channel bouquets to around 33%.