Cable TV

NTO 2.0: MSOs asks Trai to reject new RIOs published by broadcasters

MSOs claim that consumers will have to pay 100-200 per cent more in cable bills.

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Mumbai: The Tamil Nadu Digital Cable TV Operators Association has  sent a legal notice to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) asking it to reject the new reference interconnection offers (RIO) published by broadcasters. The Association has also sought Trai’s intervention in asking broadcasters to reduce channel prices as it “will cause irreparable loss to the entire industry”.

Major broadcasters including Disney Star India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, Sony Pictures Networks India, and TV18 Broadcast Ltd, had published their new RIOs over the weekend starting from 15 October (Dussehra) with the new a-la-carte pay channel and bouquet pricing that adheres to Trai’s new tariff order (NTO) 2.0.

The broadcasters had hiked the prices of their driver channels and pulled them from all their bouquets as Trai’s NTO 2.0 provisions mandated an MRP cap of Rs 12 for any pay channel to be included in a bouquet. The broadcasters are currently battling the Trai order in the Supreme Court stating that some of its provisions are arbitrary and outside the purview of the regulator. The final hearing is on 30 November.

In its notice to Trai, the Association has stated that “major broadcasters have issued their RIOs where it can be calculated that majorly subscribed channels by the consumers will be inflated by 100 per cent to 200 per cent.”

It added, “It is pertinent to mention here that during the situation when over-the-top service providers are trying to make their services more affordable to increase their subscriber base, the service providers of this industry will have to increase their rates substantially which will certainly cause loss of subscriber base of the local cable operators (LCOs) and multi-system operators (MSO).”

These “excessive prices” will undoubtedly hurt the subscriber base of cable operators whose subscribers come from the rural areas of the country where income levels are comparatively lower. The MSO mentioned that any regulation/direction/order implemented by Trai should lead to the growth and development of service providers and consumers.

“It is the contention of the Tamil Nadu Digital Cable TV Operators Association that the RIO published by Disney Star India has an illegal clause that requires MSOs to “continue the channels on the old LCNs and they cannot change it”. If new RIO is being asked to be implemented, then all its terms are liable to be renegotiated and the broadcaster cannot favourably keep the clauses of the old RIOs,” it said.

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