Broadcasters come out to challenge Bombay HC order on NTO 2.0

Broadcasters are coming out to challenge Bombay High Court’s order in the case related to TRAI’s the amended tariff order. First the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) filed a petition and now it is learnt from industry sources that Star-Disney India has also filed a petition challenging the order. The sources also told Adgully that more broadcasters are contemplating taking action i this regard and are expected to file their petitions in the coming days.

In June 2021, the Bombay High Court in its order had upheld the NTO 2.0, with the exemption of the second proviso – the a-la-carte rates of each pay channel that are part of a bouquet shall not exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such a pay channel is a part.

The broadcasters had pleaded for striking down new tariff order (NTO) 2.0, stating that it violated Article 14, Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g).

This development close on the heels of the Kerala High Court setting aside regulation 18 (4) pertaining to LCN for perpetuity, in its order, thus granting relief to All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), the apex body of Multi-System Operators (MSOs) in India.

The new measures introduced following amendments through NTO 2.0 in January 2020:

  1. Now a consumer can enjoy 200 SD (plus mandatory channels) television channels in basic Network Capacity Fee (NCF) of Rs 130/- per month. Further even for higher number of channels the maximum NCF has been capped @ Rs 160 per month. This will also benefit broadcasters, especially News & Regional FTA channels, as there are higher chances of subscription of their channels.
  2. Provision of discounts in NCFs for multi TV homes. DPOs shall not charge more than 40% of declared NCF per additional TV for 2nd TV connection onwards in a multi-TV home.
  3. Introduction of a time tested and industry accepted twin-conditions, to ensure that there is a reasonable relationship between the prices of pay channels on a-la-carte basis and the bouquet.
  4. Reduction of ceiling price of pay channel for inclusion in any bouquet from Rs 19 to Rs 12 so as to ensure fair packaging of bouquets. This will ensure reasonable price of a channel on A-la-Carte basis.
  5. Flexibility to DPOs to declare different NCFs for different regions/ areas within its service area. This provision will help DPOs to innovate and cater to local demands in their tariff offerings resulting in lower NCF in rural/ remote areas.
  6. Flexibility for DPOs to offer promotional schemes. They can also offer discounts on NCF and Distributor Retail Prices (DRP) on long term subscriptions, having duration 6 months or above.
  7. Capping of the carriage fee @ Rs 4 Lakh per Standard Definition (SD) Channel per month for a DPO. This will ensure viability of news, regional and niche channels.
  8. Full flexibility to the DPOs to organise the television channels on EPG based on Language or Genre. The provision will safeguard consumers’ and broadcasters’ interest vis-a-vis erstwhile arbitrary manoeuvring by DPOs. This will also save regional and smaller broadcasters from any probable misuse by DPO.

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