TRAI’s changes in tariff order will affect industry viability: Broadcasters

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 04, 2020 Published on January 03, 2020

Industry body to work on future course of action, evaluate legal options

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has said the amendments introduced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in the tariff order and interconnection regulations, will severely impair the industry’s ability to compete with other unregulated platforms and adversely affect the viability of the Pay TV industry. The apex industry body of broadcasters, in a statement on Friday, added that it will strategise its future course of action, “including evaluating legal options, based on feedback from its member channels and networks.”

“At a time when the economic environment is tough, this tariff order will force a lot of channels to shut down and will lead to unemployment in the sector. While the government is looking at ramping up growth, these changes will have the opposite effect for the Broadcast sector just recovering from the twin shocks of NTO (New Tariff Order) in the first half of 2019 and the ad slowdown business,” IBF said in a statement.

‘Arbitrary move’

The industry association termed the regulator’s move to cap MRP of TV channels which can be part of a bouquet at ₹12 from the earlier ceiling of ₹19, as “arbitrary” and “without a logical reason”. It echoed similar reaction to the regulator’s move to impose caps on discounts that can be offered on prices of bouquet of channels.

“In the last 15 years of regulating the broadcast sector, TRAI has issued more than 36 tariff orders and ancillary regulations in an attempt to micromanage what is arguably the cheapest form of news and entertainment in the world. This goes contrary to the Government's stated position of ensuring “ease of doing business,” the industry body said adding that the regulator has “forsworn” interest of broadcasters.

During the consultation process, IBF had requested TRAI to adopt a “soft touch” and give time to industry to adapt to the new tariff order before making further changes. Stating that its request has been ignored, IBF pointed out that the changes will “dis- empower content creators and content owners”. “Over-regulation, inconsistency and frequent changes in the regulations by the regulator has already cost the broadcast sector 10-12 million TV subscribers as per various industry estimates in 2019. These amendments will compound the problem further,” IBF added.

Published on January 03, 2020

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