Tdsat puts off IMCL’s plea against Trai’s tariff order to 25 August, makes b’casters party

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal today put off to 25 August the hearing of a petition by a multi-system operator against the the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India tariff order after being informed that the Government has deferred the sunset date for cable digital addressable systems by four months.

During the last hearing on 11 June, chairman SB Sinha and member PK Rastogi had been informed by counsel for petitioner Indusind Media Communication Ltd (IMCL) that the Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni had been holding talks on deferring the date.

On 11 June, Tdsat had asked news broadcasters - NDTV, Time Global (holding company of Times Now), India TV, TV Today, Total TV and News Broadcaster‘s Association (NBA) to file their affidavits. Today, it allowed them to be a party in the case.

Tdsat also allowed the plea of India Broadcast Foundation (IBF), and other broadcasters to be a party to it, adding that broadcasters‘ impleadment would be subject to the objections raised by IMCL.

Hinduja-controlled IMCL had earlier moved the Tdsat contesting the Trai tariff order on the ground that it does not prescribe a common rate for content from broadcasters and leaves space for negotiations that can work against smaller cable networks. By keeping the rate open with a ceiling at 42 per cent of analogue cable, the MSO also believed that vertical media companies that have a presence in both distribution and content would benefit.

IMCL also said that the provision of a la carte channels to consumers in Basic Service Tier (BST) is operationally cumbersome and can be a logistic nightmare.

The MSO also believed that the requirement of creating a 500-channel capacity is not required across India.

Meanwhile, a petition filed by local cable operators in Delhi High Court against the digitisation move on the ground that the time given was inadequate has been withdrawn following the decision of the government to put off the sunset date to 1 November. The case followed a similar track in Mumbai where cable TV operators found their case unnecessary with the government pushing back the deadline for digitisation in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

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