Television

Supreme Court defers NTO 2.0 hearing to 15 February 2022

Broadcasters had challenged the Bombay HC order in the apex court.

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Mumbai: The Supreme Court bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat, and Bela Trivedi has deferred hearing in the New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0 case to 15 February 2022. The matter pertains to a bunch of petitions filed by IBDF and certain broadcasters against the Bombay high court order on the implementation of the NTO 2.0.

In October, the apex court had refused to consider the petitioners’ request for interim relief, and posted the case for final disposal on 30 November.

The NTO 2.0 passed in January 2020 seeks to cap the pay channel price at Rs 12 from the existing Rs 19. After a legal tussle that lasted over a year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had managed to get a green signal from the Bombay high court on its implementation on 30 June. 

The division bench of Bombay HC had upheld the constitutional validity of NTO 2.0, but partly struck down the second provision of the twin conditions as “arbitrary.” As per the second provision, the a-la-carte rates of each pay channel (MRP), forming part of a bouquet, shall in no case exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is a part.

The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), an umbrella organisation of private TV broadcasters and a couple of other private channels had moved the SC in July against the Bombay high court judgement which had upheld the constitutionality of the NTO 2.0.

Earlier this month, Trai moved the deadline for implementation of NTO 2.0 to 1 April 2022 from 1 December 2021. Distribution platforms like DTH and cable will have to seek subscriber choice till 31 March 2022. 

As per Trai, 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. Broadcasters who have already submitted their RIOs in compliance with NTO 2.0 can revise it by 31 December, it said.

Several large networks including ETV, Discovery Communications, Sun TV, Times Networks, Zeel, SPNI, and others had come out with their new RIOs in October-November.

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