ZEEL, Viacom 18, Sony Pictures Networks India and Star India publish new RIOs in compliance with NTO 2.0

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 18, 2021

Networks pull popular GEC, sports channels out of bouquet

Major TV networks including Sony Pictures Network India, Star India, Zee and Viacom 18 have published their new Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) in compliance with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s new tariff order (NTO 2.0) over the past week.

Hike in MRP

The RIO has been filed as TRAI wrote to all the broadcasters seeking a compliance report by October 22. The new tariff order mandates an MRP of ₹12 per channel, down from ₹19 earlier.

As per the new tariffs, networks have pulled out various popular channels including major general entertainment channels out of bouquet, hiking their prices. Sony and Star have also hiked the prices for its popular sports channels.

Sony Pictures Networks India

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) which operates 26 entertainment and sports channels, has pulled its popular channels out of the bouquet. It published the tariffs of its 16 SD and 10 HD channels.

The price for flagship Hindi channels Sab and Set channels have been set at ₹23 and ₹24, respectively while Sab HD and Set HD have been priced at ₹28 and ₹30, respectively.

It has also kept the MRP of its GEC and sports channels above the 12 cap. Overall, the prices of 13 channels have been kept above the ₹12 cap by the channel.

Star India

Star India has published the prices for 78 channels. The MRP of 32 out of 78 channels have been kept above the ₹12 cap, keeping them out of bouquet. Among SD channels, popular channels such as Star Plus, Star Jalsha, Maa TV, Asianet and its popular sports channel Star Sports 1 have been priced the highest at ₹23. Star Sports 1 Hindi has been priced at ₹21. Among HD channels, Star Plus HD, Star Jalsha HD, Vijay HD and Asianet HD have the highest prices, set at ₹25. Sports channels such as Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 1 HD Hindi and Star Sports Select HD1 have MRP of ₹25.

The RIO also shows that Star India will be launching 15 new channels by January 24, 2022 and renaming Marvel HQ channel to Super Hungama effective December 1, 2021. Of the new channels, four channels, namely Star Sports 1 Tamil HD, Star Sports 1 Telugu HD, Star Kirano HD and Asianet Movies HD have been kept above the ₹12 price cap.

The network’s 10 existing channels were missing from the new rate card, indicating that the channels are likely to be shut down or rebranded. This includes its English GEC channels such as Star World, Star World HD, and Star World Premiere HD which were missing from the list. Disney Star India has not officially commented on the development.

ZEEL and Viacom 18

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and Viacom 18 have created a new bouquet without flagship GEC channels.

ZEEL owns and distributes 67 SD and HD channels across genres. This includes 45 SD and 20 HD channels. Zee has priced its popular GEC channels including 6 SD channels i.e. Zee TV, Zee Marathi, Zee Bangla, Zee Sarthak, Zee Telugu and Zee Kannada and 6 HD channels i.e. Zee TV HD, Zee Marathi HD, Zee Bangla HD, Zee Tamil HD, Zee Telugu HD and Zee Kannada HD out of bouquet. It has created 26 SD and HD bouquet. The highest price cap for HD and SD channels is ₹25.

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Similarly, TV18, the majority stake owner in Viacom18, has pulled out Colors and Colors Kannada out of bouquet, pricing both the channels at 21. It has priced Colors Marathi, Colors Bangla, Nickelodeon, Colors Odia, and Colors Gujarati at ₹12, ₹8, ₹7, ₹6, and ₹5 respectively. The remaining entertainment channels have been priced below ₹5.

Barring CNBC-TV18 and CNBC Bajaar, a majority of its news channels have been priced at a nominal rate of 10 paise. Most HD channels have been priced below ₹10, except Colors HD, Colors Marathi HD, Colors Bangla HD, and Colors Kannada HD.

Controversial tariff order

The new prices will come into effect from December 1, depending on the verdict of the Supreme Court on NTO 2.0 on November 30.

The new tariff orders have been contested heavily by broadcasters. The SC had moved the final hearing on the petitions filed against the Bombay HC order regarding the implementation of NTO 2.0 to November 30.

The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) and other broadcasters had challenged the Bombay High Court judgement upholding the NTO 2.0 barring the second twin condition, before the SC.

Published on October 18, 2021

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