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Trai extends deadline for NTO 2.0 implementation to 1 April 2022

The regulator directed broadcasters to publish revised RIOs by 31 December.

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Mumbai: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has extended the deadline for implementation of the new tariff order (NTO) 2.0 to 1 April 2022. The previous deadline was 1 December.

Broadcasters will have to publish new reference interconnection offers (RIOs) to Trai by 31 December and simultaneously publish the required information about channel and bouquet offerings and their MRPs on their websites. The broadcasters who have already submitted their RIOs in compliance with NTO 2.0 can revise their RIOs by 31 December.

The deadline was extended as Trai received representations from many service providers and their associations such as broadcasters, DTH operators, MSOs and DPOs, according to a report by ET. The authority, after considering the concerns expressed by various stakeholders and especially with respect to time frame for migration of subscribers and taking their choice, is of the view that paucity of time should not come in the way of implementation of the new regulatory framework 2020 in seeking informed choices of more than 150 million pay TV consumers.

DPOs will have to obtain an option for subscription of new bouquets or channels from the subscribers in compliance with the provisions of NTO 2.0 from 1 February 2022 to 31 March 2022.

DPOs will have to report the distributor retail price (DRP) of pay channels, composition of bouquet of pay channels/free-to-air channels and DRPs of bouquets of pay channels by 31 January 2022 besides simultaneously publishing the information on their websites.

In June, the Bombay high court in its judgement upheld the NTO 2.0 order by Trai barring the second proviso of the twin conditions. The provision states that a-la-carte rates of pay channels shall not exceed more than three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is part. TV broadcasters under the aegis of Indian Broadcasting Digital Foundation (IBDF) had moved to Bombay HC in January challenging the Trai order.

After the Bombay HC pronounced its judgement, broadcasters escalated the matter to the Supreme Court. The final SC hearing is scheduled on 30 November. Meanwhile, Trai directed broadcasters to comply with the Bombay HC judgement and publish new prices of their pay channels and bouquets that comply with the tariff order.

Leading broadcasters including Zee Entertainment Enterprises, Star and Disney India, Sony Pictures Networks India, Network18 Broadcast, Sun TV Network, Discovery Communications and WarnerMedia have published their RIOs effective from 1 December. As per NTO 2.0 provisions, Trai mandated a price cap of Rs 12 on pay channels to be included in a bouquet. To comply with this provision, major broadcasters pulled their popular channels from bouquets but also hiked the prices of these channels.  

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