Even as a case filed by MSOs and a section of cable ops against TRAI’s tariff regime is pending final hearing in February in a court, the broadcast regulator on Thursday directed the distribution platforms to file their declared tariff as per mandated guidelines of 2022 at the earliest.
“The Authority has observed that quite a few DPOs have not submitted the information confirming compliance to the Tariff Amendment Order and, accordingly, all such DPOs, who have not declared tariff as per the provisions of Tariff Amendment Order, are directed to comply with the provisions of the Tariff Amendment Order and report compliance to the Authority immediately,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in an advisory.
All distributors of television channels (DPOs) were required to report to TRAI the distribution retail prices of pay TV channels, bouquets of pay channels and composition of bouquets of pay and FTA channels by January 1, 2023, and simultaneously publish such information on their websites so as the amended tariff regime could be implemented from February 1.
The broadcasters, who were supposed to file their price lists of TV channels and bouquets by December 31, 2022, have already done so.
Earlier this month, the Kerala High Court refused to grant MSOs and a section of LCOs interim relief in a case related to broadcast regulator TRAI’s amended tariff rules.
The court observed it was ‘not inclined’ to pass an interim order of staying the implementation of the tariff rules of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as had been sought by the petitioners.
The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) and Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd (KCCL) petitioned the court on January 3 to stay the implementation of the tariff order, popularly known as NTO 2.0 or also NTO 3.0, as an interim measure before a more detailed order could be passed.
A final hearing is scheduled for February 8 in the case where broadcasters’ body IBDF joined issues with one of the respondents, TRAI. The other respondent in the case is the federal government through Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
The petitioners have termed the amendments in the tariff regulations, which were done after consultations late 2022, ‘arbitrary’ and ‘discriminatory’.
“It is submitted that the Impugned Regulations are arbitrary and contravene the provisions and objectives of TRAI Act and the constitutional right under Article 14 and rg(rXg) of the Constitution of India.
“In addition, the said Impugned Regulations also take away from consumer choice and autonomy, which are the corner-stone of the new regulatory framework for cable television. Further, the procedure for making the Impugned Regulations also violates the provisions of Section 11 (4) of the TRAI Act that require transparency and consultation in the process of framing regulations thereunder,” the petition stated.
“The 2022 Tariff Order Amendment is completely arbitrary and discriminatory in as much as respondent No. 1 (TRAI) has permitted 45 percent discount on bouquet of channels formed by broadcasters, whilst in case of MSOs, like the petitioners, the discount on the MSO formed bouquet is capped at 15 percent by way of proviso to Regulation 4(4) of the Tariff Order which has not been amended,” the petition contended.