According to the new tariff order, consumers could choose the TV channels they want to watch and pay only for them at maximum retail prices set by broadcasters, instead of the pre-set bouquets offered earlier.
The Bombay High Court will on 24 August pronounce its final order in the case relating to television broadcasters’ petition challenging the amended new tariff order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The division bench of the courton Wednesday said the regulator cannot take any coercive action against broadcasters until the final judgment is pronounced.
Last month, Trai had warned television broadcasters against non-compliance of the provisions of tariff order introduced in 2017 and amendments brought to it this January. It had reminded the latter that the high court had passed no orders restraining Trai from implementing these regulations though broadcasters had challenged the same, thereby asking all broadcasters to comply with new tariff order or NTO 2.0 by 10 August.
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), a unified representative body of television broadcasters in India, had moved the high court against Trai’s amended new tariff order. Meanwhile, the telecom regulator had filed caveats in all major high courts against issuing a stay without hearing what it had to say in the matter.
According to the new tariff order, consumers could choose the TV channels they want to watch and pay only for them at maximum retail prices set by broadcasters, instead of the pre-set bouquets offered earlier. The new tariff order was expected to make channels cheaper for the consumer and offer more choice. However, on ground, the opposite happened as the cost of like-to-like channel options increased.
To bring down the cost of entertainment for the end consumer, Trai announced amendments to the new tariff order on 1 January. As part of the new amendments, Trai reduced the cap on the MRP of individual channels, which can form part of any bouquet to ₹12 from ₹19 per month, which the IBF says has not been backed by any logical rationale or consumer insight. The regulator also sought to impose twin conditions for bouquet formation, effectively introducing a cap on bouquet pricing, which broadcasters feel will limit the number of channels in the bouquet and reduce the value delivered to consumers.
Broadcasters that have come together under the IBF umbrella include Star India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, and Sony Pictures Networks. Livemint