Regulators

HC adjourns Star, Sony case against Trai to 18 Jan

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court bench hearing the case on the issue of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) constitutional standing to be a regulator was adjourned after a sizeable time spent in hearing the initial arguments from both ESPN and Sony as well as the multi-system operators (MSOs). The issue will come up for hearing again on 18 January.

The MSOs, who are supporting Trai, were represented by Dr Abhishekh Singhvi, CS Vaidyanathan and Aryama Sundaran, whereas the boradcasters' consel was Soli Sorabjee. ESS and Sony had moved the Delhi HC, challenging Trai's constiutional standing.

The court heard the initial arguments and felt that since the parties concerned have not completed filingrejoinders and counters the matter may be postponed till the next date.

The case relates to the cable rules empowering Trai as CAS regulator. The High Court is hearing only the constituional issues on the matter and the quantum issues are beig heard by TDAST.

Spokesperson for the MSOs refused to divulge details of the arguments as the matter is subjudice, and the counsel was not available till late evening.

Tomorrow, hearings are slated for three cases in TDSAT. The first is on a appeal by ESPN on the August 24 order Trai of fixing tariff at Rs five per pay channel, and second is also an appeal by ESPN against the Trai order of 24 August on distribution margins for pay channels, which as per the order stand at 45 per cent for broadcasters, 30 per cent for MSOs and 25 per cent for local cable operators. The issue of Cas rule relating to signing of a standard contract is also coming up during this hearing, with the MSOs opposing the 'forcible' signing of a contract.

The third case also relates to the same issues, on an appeal filed by Sony Entertainment Television.

The Surpeme Court will hear the final arguments in the case filed by Sea TV, an affiliate of Zee Group based in Agra, on the issue of underdeclaration of the number of households by the cable operators.

Sea TV had applied for access to Star channels two years ago, and the broadcaster had said that they had given access to Moon TV. Sea TV should get the signal from Moon TV, Star had pointed out. However, Zee had intervened saying Sea TV was bound to be given access and had disputed that an MSO (in this case the Moon TV) or an LCO can be an agent of a broadcaster, which was the genesis of the case being heard.

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