As per the revised timelines, the new channel and bouquet pricing for consumers will come into effect on April 1, 2022.
Broadcasters will have to submit their reference interconnect offer (RIO), which includes the MRP of their channels and bouquets, along with other terms and conditions of interconnect agreements, by December 31st. Those broadcasters, who have already published RIOs in compliance with NTO 2.0, can also revise and submit new RIOs by the year-end.
Meanwhile, the distribution platform operators (DPOs) – DTH and cable companies – will have to submit their distributor retail price (DRP) of channels and bouquets and other details by January 31st, 2022.
TRAI has given time to DPOs to obtain the consumers’ requests for subscriptions to channels of their choice between February 1st and March 31st and to implement the new regulatory framework from April 1st.
The new deadlines were intimated to the broadcasters and the DPOs by Arvind Kumar, advisor (broadcasting & cable services) at TRAI, in a letter dated November 10th.
ET has seen a copy of the letter.
In the letter, Kumar said that while the broadcasters, who did not comply with the provisions of the new regulatory framework till October 12th, were asked to comply within 10 days, TRAI also received representation from many service providers, wherein they raised certain “practical issues” in terms of time constraints in creating an ecosystem pertaining to the implementation of the new framework in the system and migrating the consumers to the new tariff scheme.
“The authority, after considering the concerns expressed by various stakeholders and especially with respect to the timeframe for migration of subscribers and taking their choice, is of the view that paucity of time should not come in the way of smooth implementation of the new regulatory framework in seeking informed choices of more than 150 million pay TV consumers,” Kumar wrote in the letter. “Therefore, sufficient time should be given to service providers to upgrade their IT systems and incorporate various channels/ bouquets before offering the same to consumers.”
ET first reported on October 18 that the top four broadcasters – Star & Disney India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE), Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Viacom18 – had updated their channel pricing in compliance with NTO 2.0, which would have resulted in at least a 50% jump in consumers’ monthly cable bill starting December 1st.
Under NTO 2.0, TRAI has capped the price of those channels, which are part of a bouquet, at Rs 12. The broadcasters are, however, allowed to price their channels higher if they are kept out of the bouquets.
In their respective RIOs, the top four broadcasters kept all the popular channels out of bouquets and priced them between Rs 15 and Rs 25 per month.
Recently, a delegation of broadcasters, under the aegis of the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), met the TRAI chairman, who assured them to review the current issues keeping in mind the best interests of all the stakeholders in the broadcast value chain.