NTO 2.0 case judgement tomorrow


Bombay High Court has listed the NTO 2.0 matter for judgement tomorrow. If everything goes as per schedule, the judgement will be pronounced tomorrow. The arguments concluded on 9th October 2020 and the judgement has been reserved since then.
TRAI has issued amendments to the regulatory framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services on 1st January 2020. The amendments address the teething issues faced by the consumers, while balancing the interests of the broadcasters as well as the Distribution Platform Owners (DPOs) to create a level playing field. These amendments are to address certain anomalies in market which necessitated review for achieving the orderly growth of the sector.
As per NTO 2.0, the consumers can choose 200 channels of their choice excluding the mandated Prasara Bharati channels. Relief has also been given to Multi-TV home subscribers as they would pay only 40% of NCF for every second and additional TVs in a home.
The concerns of FTA, news and regional broadcasters have also been addressed by capping a maximum carriage fee payable by a broadcaster to a DPO for a TV channel per month. MSO, IPTV providers, Hits operator has also been mandated that their target market cannot be more than a state or a union territory, as the case may be. The carriage fee is capped at Rs. 4 lakhs per Standard Definition Channel per month for a DPO. This will ensure viability of news, regional and niche channels. Hence, no MSO can charge more than 4 lakhs per month.
Concern of all the broadcasters regarding placement fee and misuse by few DPOs manipulating Electronic Program Guide (EPG) has also been addressed. Full flexibility to the DPOs to organise the television channels on EPG based on Language or Genre. The provision will safeguard consumers’ and broadcasters’ interest vis-a-vis erstwhile arbitrary manoeuvring by DPOs. This will also save regional and smaller broadcasters from any probable misuse by DPO.
NTO 2.0 prescribes linkage between a-la-carte price and bouquet by mandating that sum of the a-la-carte channels in a bouquet will not be more than 1.5 times to that of bouquet price,It has also prescribed condition that MRP of a-la-carte channel should not be more than Rs. 12 per month to be part of the bouquet which was Rs.19 earlier.
These steps become necessary to curb misuse of pricing facility by few broadcasters. In fact, during the NTO 1.0 regime, some broadcasters have enhanced their prices by more than 100%.
Broadcasters have lodged an application before the Bombay high court requesting speedy pronouncement of verdict in the amended new tariff order (NTO 2.0) case. The petitioners including Asianet Star Communications have mentioned that detailed arguments on the case were heard in September-October 2020. Subsequently, the judgement was reserved.


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