Mumbai HC rules post 1 Jan subscription rate hikes unenforceable

MUMBAI: A two-judge bench of the Mumbai High Court today delivered a ruling that that has major implications on the subscription pricing mechanism instituted by broadcasters ahead of the CAS rollout.

The order, delivered this morning after hearing a public interest litigation filed by BJP MP Kirit Somaiya last month, says that in individual cases of non payment at the old subscription rates of any MSO or cable operator existing as of 31 December 2002, a cable operator will be entitled to disconnect the subscriber.

However, the order clearly states this will not be applicable in the case of subscription rates which have come into effect after 1 January 2003. Ergo, if consumers refuse to pay at the new rates, they cannot be disconnected, the judges ruled. 

Ironically, the ruling spells bad news for Somaiya, who must have been hoping to win cache with middle class citizens with an eye on forthcoming elections, in his demand that subscription rates be capped at a maximum of Rs 150.

But worst hit will be the pay-driven broadcasters, all of whom have announced new rate subscription rate cards effective 1 January. Subscribers now need to pay only at the old rate, with all the new pricing now standing nullified.

Stay clued into for a detailed report that follows.

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