With the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asking broadcasters to provide a compliance report on New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0 implementation, the stage is set for the broadcasters to come out with new MRP and bouquet rates. Industry sources say that the broadcasters have no option but to file a fresh Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) since the Supreme Court has refused to grant interim relief to the India Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) and its members.
The broadcasters are planning to file RIOs before October 22. An industry source said that the broadcasters might file RIOs as early as October 15 However, most broadcasters are tight-lipped on the issue. Individual broadcasters are also considering various options as far as bouquet formation is concerned. Since the TRAI has brought down the MRP cap for channels that are part of a bouquet to Rs 12from Rs 19, the broadcasters are considering keeping general entertainment channels (GECs) and sports channels out of bouquets.
However, the broadcasters have not arrived at a final decision, since this move might impact the reach of popular channels in the short run. A drop in reach will have a cascading effect on viewership and ad revenue. Each broadcaster is likely to follow its own strategy as far as keeping popular channels outside the bouquet is concerned. However, the prices will go down if the broadcasters continue to offer all their channels in a bouquet. “If we keep popular channels in a bouquet, popular channels will have to be priced at Rs 12 We would have to reduce the rates. That is a big problem. We are still evaluating that,” the official added.An industry source said that the broadcasters have no option but to file the RIO since SC has not given any interim relief and the TRAI wants broadcasters to comply with NTO 2.0. The source said that the broadcasters will take a call based on their own commercial interests and there will be minimum alignment at the industry level. “There will be a price rise once the NTO 2.0 is implemented and broadcasters are not to be blamed for this situation,” the source asserted.
The two major changes brought in by the TRAI with NTO 2.0 is the reduction of price cap of Rs. 19 to 12/– for inclusion in a bouquet and the introduction of twin conditions. The second twin condition has been struck down by the Bombay High Court.