After months of back and forth, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the broadcasters are hoping to finally reach an agreement on the matter of New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0, following a meeting held between the broadcasters and TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela last week in New Delhi.
TRAI Chairman has been engaging both broadcasters and DPOs to solve the thorny issues leading to the blockade of NTO 2.0, whose implementation has now been postponed to June 1.
“The broadcasters requested me to solve the problem and we are working on that. Everyone agreed, including the broadcasters. Three times they agreed but every time they failed to come up with the draft. This has caused a delay in implementation. Last week, we met again and now I can see some solution in sight,” the TRAI Chairman told BestMediaInfo.com.
The regulator has asked the broadcasters to withdraw the case in NTO 2.0 matter from Supreme Court and resolve the issues by way of dialogue.
“Broadcasters are saying that they are ready to withdraw the case but owing to bad precedence in 2018, they want to draft the letter carefully along with the TRAI counsel. In 2018, the regulator assured something and then later did something else. If we withdraw the case and then they do something against us then how will we go the court again,” a senior broadcast executive told BestMediaInfo.com.
When asked why there is a delay in drafting the letter, a broadcast industry veteran said, “There is a trust factor amongst some broadcasters, whereas some broadcasters want to trust the new dispensation at the TRAI. A few broadcasters are saying that if we need to withdraw the case then there should be a language that allows us to go back to the court in case of any change on the regulator’s part. But one section of broadcasters wants to trust the regulator and go ahead.”
“Broadcasting industry is a divided house and anything can happen,” the industry veteran said.
The sticky points in the implementation of NTO 2.0 are the MRP, designing the bouquet and giving discounts on it, and the regulator has shown flexibility on these issues.
However, this issue is not only between the broadcasters and the regulator. Other stakeholders such as the DPOs and LCOs are coming up with new demands every now and then. BestMediaInfo.com has learnt that DPOs are asking the regulator to increase the NCF from Rs 135 to Rs 165 and from Rs 165 to Rs 200.
“On one hand, DPOs are saying that Rs 12 and Rs 19 price points are too much for the consumer. But on the other hand, they want TRAI to increase the network capacity fee (NCF). How can increasing the MRP from Rs 12 to Rs 19 cause a huge burden on consumers, but increasing the NCF from Rs 135 to Rs 165 and from Rs 165 to Rs 200 will not impact the consumer’s pocket,” a broadcast executive questioned.
“Not only there should be some rationale behind this demand but you should also think carefully before you make such demands,” he added.
When asked about the way forward in ensuring a smooth implementation of NTO 2.0, the TRAI Chairman said, “Like always, TRAI will take the consultation route. We will ask the country and then will decide accordingly. The idea is to try to resolve the stakeholders’ issues while trying to protect every stakeholder’s interest.”