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TRAI makes amendments to NTO, restores MRP cap to ₹19

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the regulator for both the telecom and broadcast sectors, has amended the new tariff order (NTO) 2.0 on Tuesday, restoring the price cap for a television channel, which is part of a bouquet, to Rs 19 from Rs 12 earlier.

The move comes nearly three years after the NTO 2.0 was first mooted by the regulatory body in January 2020, setting a price cap of Rs 12 per channel for those which were part of a bouquet. The directive had met with a wall of opposition from broadcasters as well as direct-to-home operators, resulting in multiple postponements of the order. NTO 2.0 will now be implemented in February 2023.

On Tuesday, K Madhavan, president, Indian Broadcasting & Digital Foundation (IBDF) welcomed the amendment notified by Trai, saying it was a result of constructive dialogue between the industry and regulator.

“NTO 2.0 is the outcome of the strong collaboration between industry and Trai. Rather than pursue a litigative approach to address pending demands, our approach of engaging in constructive dialogue has allowed us to make strong progress in creating a more conducive environment for the industry on the pricing front,” he said.

Trai also said on Tuesday that channel bundle discounts would be capped at 45 per cent while continuing with forbearance on the maximum retail price of TV channels. Simply put, forbearance allows broadcasters to freely price their a-la-carte or standalone channels.

Last week, Trai Chairman PD Vaghela while speaking at the CII Big Picture Summit in New Delhi had said that it would issue amendments to the new tariff order and interconnection regulations, in line with its stated policy of light-touch regulation.

On Tuesday, Trai said the amendments were notified to protect consumer interest. “In the present amendments, Trai has addressed only those critical issues, which were suggested by the Stakeholders’ Committee to avoid inconvenience to consumers while implementing the Tariff Amendment Order 2020,” it said.

Broadcasters will now have to submit details of changes in the MRP of their pay channels, bouquets and composition of bouquets to Trai by December 16. Similarly, DTH players and Multi-System Operators (MSOs) will need to submit amended Distributors Retail Price (DRPs) by January 1.

“All the distributors of television channels shall ensure that services to the subscribers, with effect from February 1 2023, are provided as per the bouquets of channels opted by them,” Trai said. Business Standard

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