Trai New DTH Rule Battle Intensifies as Broadcasters Approach Bombay HC Against Amendments

Trai's new rule changes are slated to go live on March 1, 2020, but the broadcasters are averse to it saying that it will hurt their right to do business

Highlights
  • Trai changed the channel pricing cap for bouquets to Rs 12 instead of Rs 19
  • The broadcasters have filed petitions in Bombay HC
  • The broadcasters also have issue from the new NCF pricing

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has made some radical changes to the rules which it had put forth back in 2019. These rules, known as the Trai tariff regime or the National Tariff Order (NTO), have been changed to pave the way for the NTO 2.0. Under these new rules, Trai has put consumer interest forward and has reduced the ways of revenue generation for the broadcasters by capping the discount which was previously allowed on the channel packs and also keeping a cap on the pricing of the channels which are allowed to be in the channel packs. This has definitely irked the broadcasters, and they are opposed to the changes which Trai has brought in the industry. Although until now, the battle between Trai and broadcasters was merely verbal, but now it has escalated to the legal domain as the broadcasters have moved Bombay HC to challenge the new rule changes made by Trai.

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Broadcasters File Petition in Bombay HC

The group of broadcasters that have approached the Bombay High Court includes the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), Star India, ZEEL, Viacom18, and Producers Guild of India have all independently filed petitions before the HC. On Monday, the matter was spoken before the bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice RI Chagla, and now the matter will be heard today. As per the petitions, the petitioners have challenged the amendments which Trai has put forward and also challenged the interconnect regulations. As per the broadcasters, these new amendments will hinder the right to do business for them.

Broadcasters Point Out Four Major Concerns

The IBF members have all come together once to show their averseness to the new Trai regulation changes in the DTH industry. In a press conference, which was called by the big broadcasters, these broadcasters have discussed how the amendments will negatively impact their business and the entire broadcasting sector as well. There are four major issues which have been pointed out by the broadcasters and are of major concerns for these companies. IBF president, NP Singh has remarked about these four points highlighting that Trai’s move to focus incentives only on a-la-carte channels, the reduction of MRP cap for inclusion in a channel pack is now Rs 12, imposition of twin condition on bouquet pricing and the new NCF rule for the consumers which will affect the customers of these services.

Trai Maintains Its Stance

Trai, on the other hand, has solidly stayed on its stance thus maintaining that the new DTH rules will usher in better transparency and pricing for the consumers and a level playing field for the broadcasters and the other service providers in the industry. Trai further put out a press release on Monday which highlighted the salient features of the NTO 2.0 with better NCF pricing, improved Multi TV pricing, better focus on a-la-carte channels and more.

New Rules to Go Live in March

It is worth noting that Trai had issued the new changed framework on January 2020 for the DTH and broadcasting industry. These new rules are slated to go live on March 1, 2020. Broadcasters have been asked to publish their new channel pricing by January 15, 2020. The DPOs might also publish their new offerings by January 30, 2020, as well. Under the new rules, the channels priced above Rs 12 cannot be included in a channel bouquet, and the individual channel pricing must not be 1.5 times of the price of the channel which is in the bouquet.

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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.

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