The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), representative body of television broadcasters in India, has approached the Bombay High Court for relief against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new tariff order.
The TRAI in December 2019 had issued new tariff rules, lowering the prices of the Network Capacity Fee (NCF) in the interest of consumers.
According to reports, IBF, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), Star India, Disney India, ZEEL, Viacom18 and Producers Guild of India among others have independently filed writ petitions before the HC.
The Bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice RI Chagla has scheduled hearing on the matter also for today (Tuesday) for the second consecutive day.
The channels and multiple channel operators are at present offering only free to air (FTA) channels for a ₹ 130 minimum fee. Under the new regime, they will have to provide 200 channels for the same package, adds PTI.
The TRAI had in December 2019 issued new tariff rules by which prices of the Network Capacity Fee (NCF) were lowered, benefiting consumers. Previously, a sum of Rs 130 was applicable for all free-to-air channels and consumers needed to pay more in order to watch additional channels.
After the last month’s amendments to broadcast sector tariffs, consumers will pay ₹130 as NCF charge, but will be entitled to get 200 channels. Changes were also mandated to be made in the price of individual channels.
Sector regulator TRAI has mandated all broadcasters to reflect changes made to the price of pay channels for a-la- carte and bouquets by January 15 whereas operators are required to show the updated prices by January 30.
The foundation, in its petition in the high court, has opposed the TRAI-mandated tariff amendments, arguing they will adversely impact the sector’s growth. The petitioners have challenged the amendments to the tariff order as well as the interconnection regulation. The main grouse of the petitioners is that the amendments will have an impact on their right to do business.
TRAI had issued amendments to the regulatory framework for the Broadcasting and Cable Services Sector on 1st January 2020. The amended provisions will come into effect from 1st March 2020. Broadcasters may publish revised MRP of a-la-carte channels and bouquets by 15th January 2020. Similarly, DPOs may publish revised offerings on their website by 30th January.
Earlier, the IBF members had come together in a show of strength to oppose the TRAI’s amendments. In a press conference, the broadcasters had discussed threadbare how the recent amendments will negatively impact the broadcasting sector