new broadcasting rate: Trai extends the deadline for implementing the broadcasting regulations to April 1

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has extended the deadline for implementing the new broadcast industry tariff regulations – commonly referred to as NTO 2.0 – from December 1, 2021 to April 1 of the year. next.

The new channel and package pricing for consumers will take effect on April 1, 2022, according to the revised schedules.

Broadcasters must submit their Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO) by December 31, which includes the MRP of their channels and packages, as well as other terms and conditions of the interconnection agreements.

Broadcasters who have already published RIOs in accordance with NTO 2.0 can update and submit new RIOs before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, by January 31, distribution platform operators (DPOs) – cable TV companies and DTH – must disclose their distribution retail prices (DRP) of channels and packages. , as well as other information.

Trai gave DPOs time between February 1 and March 31 to receive requests from consumers to subscribe to the channels of their choice and to start implementing the new regulatory framework on April 1.

In a letter dated November 10, Arvind Kumar, the advisor to the regulator (broadcasting and cable services), informed broadcasters and DPOs of the new dates.

ET saw a copy of the letter.

Previously, the four major broadcasters – Star & Disney India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE), Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Viacom18 – had updated their channel prices in line with NTO 2.0, which would have resulted in a reduction of at least 50% increase in consumers’ monthly cable bill from December 1.

Under NTO 2.0, Trai capped the price of these channels which are part of a bundle at Rs 12. Broadcasters are however allowed to set a higher price for their channels if they are kept away from bundles.

In their respective RIOs, the four main broadcasters excluded all popular channels from the packages and priced them between 15 and 25 Rs per month.

Recently, a delegation of broadcasters, under the auspices of the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), met with Chairman de Trai, who assured them that he would review current issues with the concerns in mind. best interests of all stakeholders in the value of the broadcast. chain.

Although the IBDF has not commented on the development, an analyst who closely follows the industry said that the delay in implementation will not change the harsh reality that the new regulations will lead to an increase in the monthly bill for consumers. users.

“Trai will have to remove the ceiling of Rs 12, for which he will have to redo the entire consultation process. Without this, one or the other of the broadcasters will have to keep the prices of popular channels at a higher level, risking losing subscribers or lose distribution revenue. Pay TV the market is already shrinking and the industry needs more freedom than regulation, “he said.

According to Trai’s own report, the active subscriber base of pay-TV users has shrunk by a quarter since the implementation of the first tariff order.

TRAI amended the new tariff decree on January 1, 2020, just a few months after the implementation of the NTO.

The changes were challenged by the broadcasters and producers lobby group in the Bombay High Court, which subsequently overturned one provision of the changes, while maintaining the other changes.

Currently, the case is before the Supreme Court, which has reserved its order and is expected to deliver its judgment on November 30.

In the letter, Kumar said that Trai had received representations from many service providers, in which they raised some “practical issues” in terms of time constraints in creating an ecosystem relating to the implementation of the new. framework in the system and the migration of consumers to the new tariff system. .

“The Authority, after taking into account the concerns expressed by the various stakeholders and in particular with regard to the time it takes for subscribers to migrate and after having made their choice, is of the opinion that the lack of time should not hinder the proper implementation of the new regulatory framework. to seek informed choices from over 150 million pay television consumers, ”Kumar wrote in the letter.

“Therefore, sufficient time should be given to service providers to upgrade their IT systems and integrate various channels / packages before offering the same to consumers,” he wrote.

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