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Broadcasters Reject TRAI’s Tariff Order, Say It Will Impact Jobs, Growth

Television broadcasters on Friday united against regulator Trai’s recent order capping prices for channels, saying it will “jeopardise” content creation, impact jobs and pull down economic growth.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had last month revisited its tariff order to soften the prices for end consumers through interventions, including reducing the maximum price one has to pay for a channel to Rs 12 from the previous Rs 19. The broadcasters got together under the aegis of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to oppose the move in a rare press conference which had top executives from all the leading networks speaking out.

The grouping’s president and head of Sony Entertainment, N P Singh said there was no need for the new order and the regulator should have had ideally given time for things to settle down after last year’s tariff order.

He claimed the broadcasters, who garner only a fourth of the payments made by end consumers with a bulk 65 per cent going to distributors, had supported the last order despite reservations and invested over Rs 1,000 crore to educate the people on it. After last year’s order, he said the industry had lost over 12 million subscribers.

Star TV’s Uday Shankar termed the new order as “ludicrous” and said the industry will use all its “constitutional rights” to challenge the order in seeking a rethink.

TV Today’s Aroon Purie said the new order will “strangulate” the industry and added that it is an important sector which the government should encourage and not suppress. Discovery Networks’ Megha Tata said India is already the cheapest cable market in the world and the future of the sector will be in jeopardy through such regulatory interventions.

Singh said the broadcasters seek a stable regulatory regime and interventions like these are contrary to the Narendra Modi government’s promise to ensure ease of doing business for enterprises. He said pricing should be left to the market forces and not driven down through regulatory fiats, and was unsure if the prices will indeed go down with the Trai order.―Business Standard

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