Regulators

Madras HC: Arguments to continue in Star-TRAI tariff case on Thursday

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NEW DELHI: Arguments will to continue tomorrow on the application by Star India and Vijay TV seeking a stay of the tariff orders issued by the regulator last month and slated to become effective 2 May 2017. It is expected that the arguments will conclude on Thursday and the order announced thereafter on the stay application.

The broadcasters, who have challenged the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in issuing relating to TV content in Madras High Court, had on 28 March decided not to press for stay after the Court was informed by the regulator that it had decided to defer implementation of its tariff orders to 2 May instead of 2 April.

TRAI had issued the tariff order, Quality of Service, and Reference Interconnect Agreement orders after getting clearance on 3 March from the Supreme Court, which had then directed the High Court to conclude the matter within sixty days.

 

The case by the two broadcasters challenging the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on the plea that content fell under Copyright Act and did not come in the regulator’s purview had come up for hearing earlier this week in a bench headed by Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee.

Hearing on the petition, which has had a chequered history with three judges recusing themselves, commenced anew as it had gone before a new bench with the Chief Justice and Justice M Sundar.

However, the matter was listed for tomorrow after a brief hearing when the Star India counsel commenced speaking as the court had other matters to conclude.

After counsel for the broadcasters, counsel for TRAI, Union of India, and the intervener All India Digital Cable Federation will be heard.

Though it was not clear, it appeared that the judges Justice S Nagamuthu, Justice Anita Sumanth and later Justice Govind Rajan had received letters which prompted them to withdraw from the case.

The fresh petition became necessary as the matter is being heard afresh by the Chief Justice and Justice M Sundar. 

Apart from the Tariff order which had originally been issued on 10 October last year, the regulator also issued the DAS Interconnect Regulations which had been issued on 14 October last year, and the Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations which had been issued on 10 October last year. 

The orders can be seen at:

http://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Tariff_Order_English_3%20March_20...

http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/QOS_Regulation_03_03_2017.pdf

http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Interconnection_Regulation_03...

Following these regulations, the broadcasters had filed an amended petition and TRAI had also replied to the same last week. Concluding his arguments for the broadcasters, senior counsel P Chidambaram argued that TRAI’s action of fixing tariff for TV content was in violation of the Copyright Act. He also submitted that TRAI did not have the jurisdiction to fix tariff since the exploitation of IPR was part of the Copyright Act.

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