The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) put forth a very intriguing announcement on the first day of the year, which was not liked by the broadcasters in India. Since the start of the year, the broadcasters and channel owners in India have been resentful of the National Tariff Order 2.0 or the changes which have been made to the Trai tariff regime by Trai. These changes, as per the broadcasters, will change the way that broadcasters do business and will deeply impact their working. As such, Trai in its notification on January 1, had defined the January 15 deadline for the broadcasters. Under this deadline, these stakeholders were to publish their revised channel pricing. Although the actual implementation of the new rules is supposed to happen on March 1, the pricing of the channels was to happen on Wednesday, but it seems that the broadcasters in India have decided to let go of the date and have defied the instructions of Trai.
Legal Approach Against Trai’s New DTH Rule Changes
The broadcasters in India, which include big groups like the broadcasters guild, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) which includes all the big groups like Star India, Zee Entertainment Limited have decided to give the January 15 deadline, a cold pass. This is a rare thing to happen in the telecom and the broadcasting industry given that Trai’s word is the absolute last resort being the regulatory, but the negative sentiment around the new rules is so high that the broadcasters are ready to defy the rules which have been given by Trai. Now Trai might also send out show-cause notices to these broadcasters, asking them to abide by the new rules and publish channel pricing within 7 days, but it seems that the pass on the deadline seems more of an act of defiance and less of a delay.
Broadcasters Risk Ad and Subscription Revenue
The broadcasters have been so deeply troubled by the new changes in the Trai tariff regime that they have even started seeking legal help. These broadcasters have filed a petition in the Bombay HC for having interim relief on the new rules brought by Trai. In the new regulations which bring a changed National Tariff Order into effect, the broadcasters’ business would be further effected, and they are likely to face reduced advertising revenue and subscription revenue.
Trai New Rules too Stingy for Broadcasters
In the changed rules, Trai has defined a new price limit for the broadcasters which is Rs 12, which the channel is to be included in a channel pack. This basically means that now instead of channels priced Rs 19 in the channel pack, we will find channels of Rs 12, which will reduce the earnings of the broadcasters by quite a margin. Some other rules which are going to hurt the broadcasters include the pricing regulations for the individual channels. For making sure that the channels get more focus as a-la-carte and less as channel packs, Trai has proposed that the price of the individual channel must not be more than 1.5 times of the price of the channel inside the channel pack. Also, the average channel pricing in a channel pack should not be less than one-third of the pricing of the channel individually.
It is these extreme specifications for the channel pricing, which the broadcasters have found to be “too much regulations” in the industry. Now it remains to be seen what the next step of the broadcasters is and how they are going to deal with the new Trai National Tariff Order 2.0.