While the TV industry was finally catching it’s breath and just trying to settle down a bit, on August 16, TRAI initiated a process to review the new regulatory framework for the broadcasting sector. It has issued a consultation paper seeking stakeholders’ responses on 30 questions covering different aspects related to the NTO that came into force from 1 February 2019. Yes, they covered a lot of aspects but main agenda was controlling the prices set by the broadcasters. The three main issues that Trai has sought to address with the consultation papers are — whether channel bouquets should be allowed, should a cap on discounts within bouquets be reintroduced, and whether the ceiling price of channels in bouquets that’s Rs 19 at present, needs to be re-examined.

To oppose this, Discovery Communications has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court submitting that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s new consultation paper on tariff related issues for broadcasting and cable services is “marred by judicial impropriety” and fails to conform to the “fundamental tenets of transparency and objectivity”. The final arguments for the same are set to begin on September 19.

This just keeps on getting more and more complicated, because honestly it is just plain as day right now that TRAI in the first place had no idea about what they are actually doing. First they claimed this will reduce the TV bills, but when that failed and the consumers were paying more for lesser channels it backfired and now they released the consultation papers where they might disallow forming of bouquets and put a revised cap on channel prices.

They have created a mess in the first place, and to clean up this mess they are creating more mess. I wonder, which genius came up with this idea where after this was implemented, the consumers aren’t happy, the operators and the service providers aren’t happy and now the broadcasters aren’t happy. This whole decision is going to have kind of a knockdown  effect where the viewership will reduce, which will lead to production of fewer shows which will lead to unemployment in the sector. Also not to mention the ad revenues, which have and furthermore will decrease due to less viewership. I could keep listing the disadvantages of their decision but to no avail.

But then again, what do you expect when someone tries to solve a problem which didn’t exist in the first place?

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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