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How NTO 2.0 gives wings to the FTA channels

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma has said enhanced capacity of DPOs and reasonable carriage fees will help FTA channels, and small and regional broadcasters to prosper in a market currently dominated by five large broadcasting networks

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) decision to allow 200 free-to-air (FTA) channels for the base pack of Rs 130 is likely to be a boon for these channels as it will give them a wider reach and would eventually lead to better pricing of ad inventories.

TRAI in its amendment to the New Tariff Order mandated DPOs to carry 200 SD (plus mandatory channels) television channels in a basic NCF (network capacity fee) of Rs 130 per month. Even for a higher number of channels, the maximum network capacity fee has been capped at Rs 160 per month.


According to the regulator, this will benefit broadcasters, especially news and regional FTA segments, as there are higher chances of subscription of their channels.

A free-to-air broadcaster who did not want to be named told BestMediaInfo.com that all the FTA channels should get together and use their might to communicate to the consumer that by paying Rs 160, they can get unlimited FTA.

“While everybody is talking about 200 channels in Rs 130 but the clause in the amendment that says unlimited number of channels should be made available in Rs 160 should be communicated to consumers. Free-to-air channels should emphasise on this in a big way so that the consumer can ask the cable operators,” the broadcaster said.

“If an average consumer selects about 40-50 paid channels along with 200 FTA, that gives him around 250 channels. More channels will get accommodated,” a distribution expert explained.

The regulator has also capped carriage fees at a maximum of Rs 4 lakh per month payable by a broadcaster to a DPO for carrying a channel in the country. The authority has mandated that MSOs, HITS (home broadcasting distribution platform) operators, IP TV service providers will not have a target market bigger than a State or Union Territory as the case may be.

During a recent interaction with the media, TRAI Chairman RS Sharma had said that enhanced capacity of DPOs and reasonable carriage fees will help FTA channels and small broadcasters prosper.

A leading distributor said that the changes will benefit FTA broadcasters in a huge way as more channels will get accommodated in the same network capacity fee.

The broadcasters body IBF had challenged the amendment that TRAI made to the New Tariff Order. On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court refused to grant ad-interim relief to broadcasters but asked TRAI to file a reply in a week.

The broadcasters also had to follow the January 15 deadline to publish the revised MRPs in accordance with the TRAI amendment. But they failed to do so on Wednesday.


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