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TRAI defends NTO 2.0, insists it provides freedom to stakeholders

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India addressed the press on Monday January 13th 2019 to clarify how amendments to the regulatory framework (NTO 2.0) addressed the issue of freedom of choice of the consumer that could not be completely achieved in the first amendment order.

The statement said, “The amendments through NTO 2. 0 have left the basic structure of the regulatory framework unchanged with very minor modifications targeted to address teething problems relating to smooth implementation.”

It added 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.”

NTO 2.0 ensures that prices of a-la-carte channels are not illusory, said the regulator, adding that the amendments prescribe a linkage between a-la-carte price and bouquet price while allowing broadcasters to have full flexibility to select the MRP for their channels.

The regulator mentions that the condition that MRP of a a-la-carte channel  should  not be more  than  Rs  12/per  month  to be part of the bouquet which was Rs 19 earlier, curbs the misuse of pricing facility by few broadcasters. The statement said that after the implementation of NTO, some broadcasters enhanced their channel prices drastically, which in large number of cases were more than 100%.

Consumers can now choose from 200 free to air channels of their choice excluding mandated Prasarbharti channels in maximum network capacity fee (NCF} of Rs 130/ - per month. Relief has also been given to Multi-TV home subscribers as they would pay only 40% of NCF for every second and additional TVs in a home.

The concerns of FTA, News and regional broadcasters have also been addressed by capping maximum carriage fee payable by a broadcaster to a DPO for a TV channel per month. DPOs could change the Channel Number every year and were demanding huge placement charges from some broadcasters. Regional broadcasters and small channels were facing serious threat of removal of their channels from platform owing to their lower penetration. These issues have also been addressed and level playing field has been ensured to each broadcaster so that sector can grow.

The regulator concluded that appropriate time had  been given to the broadcasters for implementation of the amendments. Broadcasters are required to publish revised MRP rates of a-la-carte channels and bouquets by 15th January 2020 while DPOs have to publish revised offerings on their website by 30th January. The implementation of the amendments should be in effect from 1st March 2020.

 

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