Broadcasters face a confusing choice Hearing and TRAI Deadline on 10th

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Broadcasters are now in a dilemma. Their application against TRAI could not be heard in Bombay High Court both on Thursday and Friday due to paucity of time. The latest deadline fixed by TRAI for implementation of NTO 2.0 ends on 10th and the HC is also likely to hear on 10th. What to do now is the biggest dilemma the broadcasters are facing.

Big broadcasters had approached the Bombay High Court earlier this week against TRAI’s Aug 8 deadline for the implementation the new tariff order (NTO) 2.0. The matter was first listed on Wednesday for hearing on Thursday. However, it was pushed to today (Friday) as the bench had to cancel all hearings on Thursday. The matter is now listed for Monday, Aug 10.

This means that the broadcasters run the risk of inviting punitive action from TRAI if they fail to announce new tariff plans and packs as directed by the end of the day tomorrow. On the other hand, if these big broadcasters do upload the new plans and reference interconnect offer today (Saturday), there is a chance that some MSO or DTH operator may download a copy, fill it and send it to them.

According to the law as it stands, any DPO can download the Reference Interconnect Offer — the document that lays down the channel prices, packs and other conditions — from the broadcaster’s website, fill and submit it to demand a connection. Earlier, the process involved considerable mutual negotiation. However, chances of that happening are very slim.

There is a stronger possibility that the broadcasters will not publish new channel and pack prices by the deadline, and will instead hope that they will get some relief from the court on Monday. So far, out of the dozens of broadcasters, only three or four have complied with TRAI’s directive to publish new prices and packages that are in compliance with the rules issued on Jan 1, 2020.

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