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TDSAT-Ad cap: TRAI done; amicus curiae takes over

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) finally wound up its arguments on 25 November on broadcasting advertising cap regulations. Speaking for the third consecutive day, TRAI counsel Rakesh Dwivedi elaborated on Article 14 of the Constitution that talks about the fundamental right to equality.

His point was that all channels are at a par. Although free-to-air (FTA) channels don’t get subscription revenues like others, they are benefited in some other way and thus they should also be treated as those that receive payments. Dwivedi also submitted data alleging that channels had grossly (highly) violated the ad regulation. 

With that the TRAI concluded its side of arguments and the first Amicus Curiae took over. Madhavi Divan started with the history of television and brought up many points like how TV was licensed, a few judgements, the Cable TV Networks Act, the TRAI act, the convergence bill that never saw the light of day as well as the fact that there was a bill to establish an independent authority. She argued that broadcasting services fall under the TRAI Act because originally they were planning to bring it under an independent act, which never happened.

She also stated that duration of advertisements does not come under content. She read out a few important points from a book that gave insight in to the setting up of TRAI, how cable operators came into existence and other details about the industry. The bench wanted to know from her who is the enforcer of violation of the duration of advertisements. Divan said she would be attending to that tomorrow.

Once she concludes her arguments in a day or two, the second amicus - Aman Ahluwalia would speak on the subject.

The ad cap issue hearing appears to be entering its last round. It is just a matter of time - some say within two to three weeks that TDSAT will be ready to announce its verdict.

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