The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) and broadcasters have finally reached an agreement over the New Tariff Order (NTO) 3.0, with the cable operators agreeing to sign the fresh Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO) “without any prejudice”. The case in the Kerala High Court will, however, will continue.
“The matter between AIDCF and broadcasters is now resolved. It was a very pressure situation for the AIDCF members, local cable operators as well as consumers. The members were expecting an interim relief much earlier, but did not get,” said a source close to the development.
It has been learnt that that as per the understanding reached upon by the two sides, the interconnection agreement may be revised depending on the court order.
The agreement has come after AIDCF members, who moved the court to challenge NTO 3.0, failed to get an interim relief form the court despite four days of consecutive hearing. The matter is to come up for hearing today again.
Big broadcasters Disney Star, Sony and ZEE, meanwhile, switched off their signals on February 18 after AIDCF members didn't heed to their notice sent on February 15, asking them to sign the new RIO. The channels reportedly went off the air in midst of the second test match between India and Australia. The notice was sent to AIDCF members, including Hathway, who decided not to raise channel pricing while the Kerala High Court was hearing the case.
“Broadcasters had taken a price increase after four years post the release of new NTO guidelines by TRAI. Most DTH and cable operators, whose base adds up to 80% of India’s PayTV customers, have already started implementing the new prices and they’ve had to increase consumer prices by approx 5 per cent after four years. Some cable operators did not sign fresh agreements, thus forcing broadcasters to disconnect their services after serving due notice," Siddharth Jain, Secretary General, IBDF, had then said.
The new tariff order, which came into effect from February 1, 2023, allowed broadcasters to hike the price of channels that are part of a bouquet to Rs 19 from Rs 12 earlier.