Broadcasters urge TRAI to defer further regulatory intervention

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 23, 2019

Expressing concerns on promotion of a-la-carte channel at the cost of bouquets, the IBF said that it will adversely impact the viability of small and niche content TV channels   -  THE HINDU

IBF says frequent tinkering with norms will have an adverse impact on the industry

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) on Friday urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to defer regulatory interventions and allow the industry and other stakeholders enough time to adapt to the new MRP-based tariff regime. It stated that frequent tinkering with regulations and attempts to micro-manage free markets can lead to adverse consequences for the industry.

IBF said that the regulator’s consultation paper comes barely a few months after the implementation of the new tariff order and seeks to make fundamental changes in channel pricing and bouquet formation. “This goes against all norms of a stable regulatory regime necessary for the economic advancement of any industry,” it added.

After receiving consumers complaints, last week the regulator released a consultation paper to bring changes in the current broadcasting regulatory regime and has proposed to put caps on discounts offered on TV channel bouquets to make a-la-carte pricing competitive enough for consumers to be able to choose the channels they want to watch. “TRAI’s consultation paper proceeds on the assumption that consumers are being denied choice of channels by excessive discounts on bouquets. IBF wishes to point out that the cap on bouquet discounts under the NTO (new tariff order) was struck down by the Madras High Court as arbitrary. Further, the global practice in the TV and cable industry is to offer content in bouquets customised to meet the diverse needs of consumer,” the industry body stated.

“The impression being created that broadcasters are gaming the system to push bouquets is incorrect,” it pointed out.

Read | Channel churn: TRAI’s attempts to micromanage the broadcasting sector have backfired

Expressing concerns on promotion of a-la-carte channel at the cost of bouquets, the IBF said that it will adversely impact the viability of small and niche content TV channels. “ Broadcasters will be unwilling to launch new channels and producers will be unwilling to experiment with new content. All this will lead to fewer shows being produced which will have a knockdown effect on downstream production and on employment in the sector,” the IBF’s statement added.

IBF said that over the past few years, the broadcasting industry has gone through several major regulatory changes as it transitioned from CAS to digital addressable system and now to an MRP pricing regime. “ Stability in policy formulation” and “ soft touch in regulatory oversight” is an absolute necessity for the growth of the industry.

“The government’s focus on “ease of doing business” warrants minimal regulatory intervention. Hence regulatory intervention at this early stage in the implementation of the NTO is not only premature but will have disastrous consequences for the broadcasting industry,” IBF added.

Published on August 23, 2019

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