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Broadcasters exploiting NTO 2.0 provisions for a-la-carte pricing: Trai

The telecom regulator said that it will not shy away from acting in the interest of consumers.

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Mumbai: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday said that some broadcasters are exploiting the freedom given for al-a-carte pricing of TV channels and warned that it will keep a strict watch on the industry and not shy away from acting in the larger interest of consumers and the industry.

With an increase in TV channel subscription rates impending, the Trai said in a statement that the new tariffs announced by leading broadcasters reflects their intention to raise the prices of driver and popular channels, according to a report by PTI.

These driver channels include general entertainment channels (GECs) and sports channels. The regulator refrained from naming any broadcaster but alluded that some leading broadcasters had hiked channel tariffs arbitrarily.

The regulator claimed that the prices that some of the broadcasters have announced for their channels are unsustainable, are not demand driven or market driven prices and are against the interest of the consumer.

This price hike has been announced in the garb of complying with the NTO 2.0, which is not true and rather an attempt to defeat the purpose of NTO that has already benefited the consumer to a large extent, stated Trai.

Trai further said, “A sustained and misleading campaign is being run to create an impression that the impending price increase is due to the new tariff regime (NTO) 2.0. It is being publicised that any/every consumer who opts for top GECs or sports channels will end up paying an extra amount of Rs 100,” according to the PTI report.

The purpose of the amendments to regulations for broadcasting and cable services sector was to ensure that no service provider corners undue gains and profiteers at the expense of consumers, as per Trai. It pointed out, “the channel pricing has remained under the prescribed ceiling for 15 years since 2004.”

Under the provisions of the new framework, broadcasters may freely fix the price of their television channels with certain conditions applicable for inclusion into a bouquet. The regulations state that a channel MRP greater than Rs 12 cannot be included into a bouquet. The framework should result in reduced bills for the consumers, said the regulator.

The implementation of NTO 2.0 will lead to an era of transparent tariffs and usher in better channel content at the most competitive prices, stated Trai. The regulator said that it is conscious of the time required to implement necessary changes to be carried out to incorporate the considered choices of 150-160 million pay TV households.

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