Trai Tariff Regime and Frequent Rule Changes Have Taken Stability for a Toss: Broadcasters

Published by
Arpit Sharma

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been making many changes to the DTH and broadcasting industry back to back since the rollout of the Tariff Regime in 2019. While at the start of the last year, Trai rolled out its National Tariff Order (NTO), barely a year later, Trai is again at the hem of the industry with a second version of the NTO which it is calling as NTO 2.0. Amidst all these new regulations and frequent changes, the industry is of the opinion that stability in the sector has gone for a toss. The broadcasters and consumers feel the same way. Only last year, Trai had placed a cap on the pricing of the channels to be Rs 19, and the broadcasters had complied with the rules to reduce their channel prices accordingly. Now Trai has further brought down the channel cap to Rs 12, and the broadcasters

have been asked to comply. It is also notable that the regulations which were brought for the good of the consumers, left the consumers confused about what they should be doing.


Broadcasters Concerned About Stability in Sector

One of the broadcasters remarked about this, “OTT is still not the primary choice for content, so TV is still a very important part of households across the country. The constant change in pricing is leaving everyone confused. First, there was NTO which changed cable and DTH bills then there were festive discounts which made the bill look different for a while now there is another disruption in terms of channel pricing. This puts the entire mechanism under a constant change. A regulatory body is expected to bring stability. It looks like Trai is not concentrating much on it.” This was reported by exchange4media.

However, from Trai’s perspective, the new regulations are nothing but a check on misuse of the freedom which was given to the broadcasters. As per Trai, the broadcasters were rampantly charging more from the customers which is why Trai had to intervene and bring in new regulations so that the prices of the channels could be regulated and made more attractive for the consumers.

Trai Stays on Its Stance

CEO of a popular GEC channel also gave his opinion and said that markets arrive at a natural equilibrium with the broadcasters’ interests and the consumers’ interests. However, the frequent intervention by Trai is disrupting it with the introduction of new rules again and again. Consumer education, which is also something time taking, is also being affected by this.

As per the regulator, however, things are nothing like that. Trai chairman RS Sharma has said that whenever some changes are made to the regulations, then there are going to be “teething troubles” and Trai’s aim will be to solve that.

Broadcasters Against Trai’s New Rules

The broadcasters in the industry are of the opinion that the new NTO 2.0 disrupts stability in the sector. With the new amendments in the tariff regime, Trai changed how the channel packs are made now. While previously the price cap for it was Rs 19 per channel, now it has been brought down to Rs 12 per channel. There are some strict rules regarding the packaging of channels in the bouquets. The new amendments also change the Multi TV pricing rules as well. All of this has not been supported yet by the broadcasters. In fact, the broadcasters in the industry have all rallied against Trai to file a petition in the Bombay HC.

Arpit Sharma

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

Published by
Arpit Sharma

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