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NTO 2.0 case: A masterstroke from IBDF, but what next after petition withdrawal?

Will the abrupt and surprising move by the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) of withdrawing its petition in the Supreme Court against TRAI’s new tariff order (NTO 2.0) herald a change as far as the issue is concerned? According to news reports, the IBDF has filed an application for withdrawal of the Special Leave Petition with the apex court. The stage is now set for an arbitrary framework, letting the stakeholders eschew the acrimonious litigation path.

ALSO READ: NTO 2.0: IBDF withdraws its petition in SC

What has prompted the broadcasters’ body to withdraw the petition? According to industry insiders, it has been coming for some time. During a recent event, TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela had dwelt at length on the need to create a level-playing field for all stakeholders and ensure a balance between broadcasters and distribution operators.

According to sources, the IBDF had a couple of discussions with TRAI in the recent past, which, inter alia, eventually culminated in the withdrawal of the petition at the apex court.

Also read: NTO 2.0: IBDF withdraws its petition in SC

New IT Rules 2021: No coercive action against IBDF - Madras HC tells Govt

A masterstroke

And how will the withdrawal of the petition impact the industry in general, in the days to come? While welcoming it wholeheartedly, broadcasters are terming the development as a ‘major move’, which will go a long way in solving the pricing issue in a swift and amicable manner. It is a masterstroke and a measure of maturity on the part of the broadcasters, they maintain.

“It is nothing but a remarkable and major move from the part of the broadcasters’ body. It is a wonderful move. It shows the maturity of a growing economy at the cusp of change,” said an analyst who preferred to remain anonymous. He felt that this development will catapult the television sector into a growth trajectory.

According to him, policy issues should not be dragged to the courts. “It is a policy matter and as such cannot be dragged into a court of law with no end in sight. Everybody loses money. It is a waste of time and resources. An issue that could be solved in a matter of a few months need not be dragged on forever with adjournments and endless arguments and counter-arguments. You can solve this issue in 100 days. Our courts are already overburdened. It is better to sort out the issue amicably. Courts should be places where we discuss and solve public interest matters,” he affirmed.

What next?

The ball is now in TRAI’s court. The regulator will address the concerns of the industry. An industry source told Adgully that TRAI will come up with a consultation paper by this April or May. (It must be remembered here that TRAI recently postponed the deadline for implementing NTO 2.0 from April to June 1, 2022.) The final recommendation by the regulator will be out by the end of this year. The matter will be fairly sorted out before the Diwali season, according to sources.

India being an entirely different market needs different treatment and different business models. “People want to pay what they can afford to. Even Netflix has slashed its prices in India. In the case of TV, it had to be a buffet, not a bouquet. You must give the consumers the option of choice. Let them select what they want rather than us imposing on them as to what they should watch. The problem with the current system is that broadcasters give a slew of channels. Here, the consumer gets stuck and cable providers get stuck because they have to carry those channels which people hardly watch. I am hoping that this development will go a long way in solving the pricing imbroglio that has been stymieing the growth of the industry in some way,” said the industry veteran.

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