Big relief, says industry as court restrains TRAI from taking coercive steps over NTO 2.0

Media experts believe it is unlikely that NTO 2.0 will be implemented this year even if the judgement is pronounced in November, because whoever loses the case will go to the Supreme Court

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 9:26 AM

The broadcast industry heaved a sigh of relief as the Bombay High Court on Tuesday restrained the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from taking any coercive action to implement New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0. Industry experts feel this will prevent more disruption in this already Covid-hit year. They say the restraint is important as TRAI, in the past, has tried to forcefully implement the order despite the matter being in court.

The court  on Tuesday reserved its final judgement in the TRAI vs broadcasters case about the implementation of New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0.In the final hearing, the court passed an order recording TRAI’s assurance that it will take no coercive steps for the implementation of NTO 2.0. The order came as a big relief for the broadcasters and other stakeholders in the current situation, even though the uncertainty on the implementation of NTO 2.0 will remain till the final order is announced.

Media experts believe it is unlikely that NTO 2.0 will be implemented this year even if the judgement is pronounced in November or December, because whoever loses will go to the Supreme Court.

“Yes, this is a big relief. At least we won't have one more disruption in this already Covid-hit year,” said an industry expert who did not wish to be quoted as the matter is subjudice.

According to another media expert, the assurance from TRAI was important because the authority has, in the past, tried to forcefully implement NTO 2.0 despite the fact that the matter is still in the court. “There will be an assurance now that till the final verdict is not announced, TRAI cannot push the broadcaster for implementation.”
Broadcasters have alleged that TRAI tried to push NTO 2.0 despite Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar assuring the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) members, who met him in May, that it will not be implemented anytime soon.

The court order on TRAI’s assurance stated, “When the matters were reserved for orders, an assurance was given to the Court by the learned Senior Counsel for the Respondent Authority that no coercive steps or measures shall be taken for non-implementation of the 2020 Regulatory Framework till such time that the order is passed by the Court.”

The assurance of the Respondent Authority (TRAI) would extend to not just the petitioners who have approached the Bombay High Court but even non-petitioners, whether broadcasters, MSO, DTH or cable operators. This would mean that the NTO regime of 2017 (implemented in 2019) would continue to be the applicable regulatory framework and TRAI will not take any measure or steps against any player (whether broadcaster, MSO, DTH or cable operators) who stays within NTO -2017 regime but doesn’t implement the 2020 Amendments. Notably, 2020 Amendments which were notified on January 01, 2020, have not been implemented so far and have even been admitted so by TRAI on multiple occasions, the court order read.

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