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Trai extends deadline for implementation of new tariff order to February next year

Several stakeholders requested an extension of the time limit to implement the new tariff order.

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Mumbai: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to extend the deadline for implementation of the new tariff order (NTO 2.0) from 30 November 2022 to 28 February 2023.

As per the regulatory filing, the authority said, “All the distributors of television channels shall ensure that services to the subscribers, with effect from 28 February 2023, are provided as per the bouquets or channels opted by them.”

Several representations have also been received from the stakeholders requesting an extension of the time limit for implementation of the New Regulatory Framework 2020. According to Trai's recent notice, it stated, “All the broadcasters shall report any change in name, nature, language, MRP per month of channels, and composition and MRP of bouquets of channels by 30 November 2022, and simultaneously publish such information on their websites,” it stated.

"The broadcasters who have already submitted their reference interconnect offers (RIO) in compliance with the New Regulatory Framework 2020 may also revise their RIOs by 30 November 2022," it further added.

In addition to it, Trai also said, "All distribution platform operators (DPOs) will need to submit their distributor retail price (DRP) of pay channels and bouquets & composition of bouquets of pay and free-to-air channels, by 31 December 2022 to Trai."  

The authority further, in compliance with the New Regulatory Framework 2020, asked DPOs to revise their already-submitted RIOs by 31 December 2022. 

After receiving comments and counter comments from the stakeholders on the consultation paper, TRAI was to conduct an open house discussion (OHD) on 21 July 2022, which is now scheduled to take place on 8 September 2022.

New Tariff Order

When NTO was first introduced and gave customers the option to select channels à la carte, the price of entertainment increased, forcing Trai to modify its order. In January 2020, NTO 2.0 was introduced, capping the price of a bouquet channel at Rs 12 as opposed to Rs 19. This was not supported by any logical justification or consumer insight, according to the Indian Broadcasting Digital Foundation (IBDF), a unified representative body of Indian television broadcasters.

Broadcasters have resisted the new tariff order vigorously and reacted by removing premium channels from bouquets and increasing their prices from Rs 20 to Rs 30 after losing the legal battle to overturn the Trai order in both the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.

Cable operators were compelled to ask the regulator to postpone the implementation of NTO 2.0 as a result of major broadcasters like Star, Zee, Sony, and Viacom18 choosing to raise the MRP of their well-liked channels and keep them out of bouquets. For instance, the All India Digital Cable Federation had urged Trai to reconsider the order's provisions in light of the sustainability aspect of putting this framework into place.

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