MSOs impleaded in Trai tariff case

NEW DELHI: Two MSOs - IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd. and Digicable – have been impleaded as parties in the hearing before the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) in the case relating to several broadcasters challenging Trai‘s tariff order for digital addressable systems.

Both the MSOs are supporting the Telecom regulatory Authority of India‘s (Trai) Tariff Order of 21 July, which will become effective on 1 October. The earlier date of implementation (1 September) was put off by a month in view of a Supreme Court hearing on the same issue.
Day-to-day hearing commenced on 14 September and the Tribunal heard counsel CS Vaidyanathan on behalf of Indusind (IMC) and said while the MSOs supported addressability, non-Cas operators cannot be treated at par with DTH or addressability. The rates have, thus, to be different. If the rates charged by broadcasters are realistic, then there will be no under-declaration by cable operators as alleged by the broadcasters.  
Trai counsel said that the tariff order was also aimed at encouraging the switch-over to addressability.

Earlier this week, senior advocate Ramji Srinivasan appearing for Star Den Media and Sun TV had said Trai had fixed tariff for DTH sector without fixing the tariff for non-CAS.

"What was the urgency of fixing DTH tariff in relation to non-Cas tariff though it has not been finalised," Srinivasan had asked.

In its tariff order, Trai made it mandatory for broadcasters to make channels available to DTH and addressable digital cable networks at 35 per cent of the corresponding rates for analogue cable operators. Earlier, Trai had fixed tariff for DTH at 50 per cent of the analogue cable price.

The petitions are by Star Den, Zee Turner and Sun among others. All the four petitions have raised the same prayer, seeking quashing of the Trai Tariff order of 21 July. The petitions are largely similar in the arguments raised by them.

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