Regulators

TRAI backs NTO 2.0, says amendment to create level playing field

Broadcasters to come up with the new price list of channels by 15 January 2020.

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory and Authority of India (TRAI) has backed the amendments made in the New Tariff Order (NTO) claiming it to be consumer-friendly. Issuing a statement, TRAI said that it will create a level playing field for all stakeholders in the broadcasting industry.

The regulator believes that transparent mechanism needs to be adopted to encourage the market discovery of channel price, but any attempt to scuttle consumer choice through non-transparent pricing practices means need to be discouraged.

Hence, the authority quoted that the intended benefit for consumers to enable the freedom of choice could not be achieved completely due to misuse of available flexibility by a group of service providers.

Meanwhile, it also clarified that the concern of all the broadcasters regarding placement fee and misuse by few  distribution platform operators (DPO) manipulating Electronic Program Guide (EPG) has also been addressed.

The release added that post the implementation of NTO, some broadcasters had enhanced their channel prices drastically. This price increase is anti-consumer and forces regulatory interventions. Adding further it said, “The broadcasters, however, continue to have full flexibility to price their channel as Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of any channel remains in forbearance.”

It further said, “The amendments through NTO 2.0 have left the basic structure of the regulatory framework unchanged with very minor modifications. And it’s targeted to address teething problems relating to smooth implementation.”

The new amendments provide complete freedom to broadcasters/ DPOs to price their services while ensuring that consumers get the freedom to choose the TV channels, the regulator explained.

As the amendments provide appropriate time to stakeholders for implementation, consumers will be able to benefit as per the amended provisions with effect from 1 March 2020.

TRAI also said that the new amendments will usher in better offerings, reduced NCF, more flexible tariff schemes and more choices for consumers.

On 1 January 2020, the regulator had amended the NTO which created a panic-like situation within the broadcaster and service provider community to opt for the legal option against the new TRAI order.

TRAI had come up with a slew of measures in the recent amended that it claims are customer-focused. It has asked the broadcasters to come up with the new price list of channels by 15 January 2020.

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