HC adjourns Sony case against Trai to 24 Jan

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 today heard arguments by Sony Entertainment Television's counsel, before adjourning it again to 18 January.

The crux of senior counsel Soli Sorabjee's hour-long argument was around the previously stated position that broadcasters are not covered under the Telecom regulatory nor cable operator acts. Hence Trai is not in a position to eithwer fix tariff or issue any other regulations or orders.

The court had last December fixed the day for hearing this matter while stating that there would be no impact of the continued hearing on implementing Cas from the designated date: 31 December, 2006.

The petition by Sony is now the main petition being heard by the court. The earlier petitions by first Star (2005), and then Sony, are all being heard as part of this main petition.

Star had filed the orginal case in 2005 challenging the constitutional validity of Trai as a regulatory authority for broadcasters.

Since the very locus standi of Trai had been sought to be shown as unconstitutional by Star, automatically all its powers and orders were challenged, including the order of tariff freeze. Later, Sony had filed a seperate petition on the orders of 24 August and 31 August regarding Trai's constitutional validity, its orders relating to price fixing under Cas regime at Rs 5 per pay channel, as well as its order on interconnection.

Trai had issued an order saying that signals to a cable operator or MSO could not be disconnected, whatever be the reason, by a broadcaster unless 21 days prior notice is issued.

On the price fixing at Rs 5, the court had asked Sony to appeal to TDSAT as that was a quantitative issue.

HC at the moment is only hearing the constitutional issue, which will continue on 24 January.

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