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NTO 2.0 matter adjourned to February 15 by the Supreme Court

The matter pertains to the petitions filed by broadcasters against the Bombay High Court order over the implementation of NTO 2.0, issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

The Supreme Court has adjourned the NTO 2.0 matter to February 15, 2022. The matter pertains to the petitions filed by broadcasters against the Bombay High Court order over the implementation of NTO 2.0, issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The matter was listed before the Supreme Court’s bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat, and Bela Trivedi.

Earlier in October, the IBDF and other broadcasters’ request for interim relief was refused by the Supreme Court, which had then listed the matter for final disposal on November 30. Following the court’s refusal, TRAI sought compliance reports from broadcasters on October 1.

The major broadcasters complying with the provisions of NTO 2.0 had filed revised RIOs. This led to an increase of up to 50% in the MRPs of most of their flagship channels.

Later in November, TRAI had deferred the New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.) implementation for three months, leading to the deadline to implement the provisions shifting from December 31, 2021, to April 1, 2022.

As per TRAI’s last communication in November, broadcasters were required to file RIO / revised RIO (Reference Interconnect Offer) by December 31, 2021.

The Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) have been instructed to comply as per NTO 2.0 by January 31, 2022.

The DPOs have been asked to offer and obtain option of subscription to new bouquets/channels from consumers from February 1 to March 31, 2022.

Broadcasters feared that the NTO 2.0 implementation would impact the advertising revenues of select channels, especially niche channels, as the price-conscious consumer may rationalise her TV package, leading to a reduced reach for some channels.

After the hike in channel pricing by the broadcasters, the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) requested TRAI to delay the NTO 2.0 implementation. 

As per a TRAI report, the active subscriber base had dwindled by 25% after the implementation of the first tariff order in 2019.

The broadcasting industry has been struggling ever since to gain reach with some broadcasters even shutting down their niche offerings, especially English GECs and movie channels, which have been affected the most.

The NTO 2.0 has put a cap on the MRPs of channels that wish to be a part of bouquets. Hence, broadcasters are pricing their flagship channels above Rs 12 as they cannot be a part of any bouquet. The demand for flagship channels across the country will thus increase the monthly cable bills of the end consumer.

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