What the music channels said on the ad cap issue

MUMBAI: After the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) presented its side of the story, it was the turn of the music channels to present their case in the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) regarding the troublesome 12 minute ad cap regulation that is being enforced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).


The hearing that went on for two days (Monday and Tuesday) had the music channels counsel speaking on behalf of the four music channels - 9XM, B4U, M Tunes and Mastiii. The main point raised was violation of Article 14 of the constitution of India by the TRAI. The Article states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”.


According to counsel, the TRAI is violating Article 14 by putting all the channels in the same basket. There are different types of broadcasters delivering both free to air and pay channels in the genres of news, sports, music etc. It is inappropriate to be treating ‘unequals as equals’ by classifying all channels in the same category, counsel emphasized. To support his argument, he said that FTA channels don’t get subscription revenue and work on purely advertising while pay channels have the benefit of both.


Apart from this, other issues raised during the hearing were similar to the ones the NBA counsel had raised such as the jurisdiction of the TRAI to come out with such a regulation, unregulated and high carriage fees and high cost of content production.


There is a long list of channels that will now present their cases in front of the TDSAT bench of Justice Aftab Ahmed and member Kuldip Singh including Reliance Big Broadcasting, Sun TV Network, Raj TV, E24 Glamour, Eenadu Television and Polimer Media.


After this, TRAI will defend itself. The hearing is set to continue today.


This is surely one case that will take much time to resolve.

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