Will COVID-19 outbreak further delay NTO 2.0 implementation?

According to sources, broadcasters and distribution operators are sticking to existing deals that are valid until March 31 and consumers are also going by the old channel bouquets

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Mar 23, 2020 9:18 AM

The implementation of TRAI’s NTO 2.0 has been hit yet again, this time due to the coronavirus threat.

exchange4media has learnt that broadcasters and distribution operators are sticking to deals that are valid till March 31. Consumers too are going by the old channel bouquets also because the NTO case is still pending with the Bombay High Court.  

A source close to the development said the implementation of the New Tariff Order has been difficult as most states are under lockdown and hence cable operators are unable to educate consumers about the new regulations. 

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) has sent an email to TRAI requesting to suspend the implementation of NTO 2.0. 

The MCOF has said that in the normal course of business, LCO business entails many visits to customer premises for collections of post-paid subscription and on-site service support.

NTO 2.0 will necessitate more frequent interaction with subscribers - firstly to refit them into new basic plan options and secondly to enable them to make the right choices of Pay Channels and Packages, the cable operators body has said.

The coronavirus outbreak puts field executives in risk as they have to interact with subscribers. The home visits also puts customers at risk. Sources say those on the ground could develop a higher probability of turning into a Passive Carrier, if not a patient himself.

 With almost everyone resorting to social distancing to contain the spread, the implementation of NTO has become almost impossible for now, sources have further said.

 MCOF has requested TRAI to defer the implementation of NTO 2.0 until things settle. The interim period will also be useful for more interactions with and by the industry, the body has said.

 TRAI has responded to the MCOF letter, saying “We are seized of the matter and would take all appropriate steps in the interest of the stakeholders as and when necessary.” 

 As per the TRAI order, the implementation of NTO 2.0 was effective rom March 1 when all the stakeholders of the ecosystem had to publish the new rates on their respective websites.

 A source informed: “Some of the broadcasters and even DPOs have published the revised rates and introduced new bouquets but nothing has been implemented on the ground so far. Since the country and the world is fighting the coronavirus outbreak, the implementation of NTO 2.0 is likely to take longer.” 

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