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TRAI defers NTO 2.0 implementation for three months

The latest communication from the regulator asks stakeholders to ensure services provided as per bouquets / channels opted from April 1, 2022

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has deferred the New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0 implementation for three months.

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In a letter sent to the stakeholders, the authority has instructed to ensure services provided as per bouquets / channels opted from April 1, 2022. Earlier, the deadline to implement the provisions of NTO 2.0 was December 31, 2021.

According to the regulator’s latest communication, broadcasters are 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 of new bouquets / channels from consumers from February 1 to March 31, 2022.

Earlier in October, 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.

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. 

Earlier in October, TRAI had asked the broadcasters to send a compliance report within 10 days on the implementation of the amended new tariff order termed NTO 2.0 as the latter failed to secure an interim stay on the Bombay High Court’s order from the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has reserved its order on the petition filed by the broadcasters for November 30.

According to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the active subscriber base went down 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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