SC stays TRAI directive on wholesale tariff revision to broadcaster till August

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which is currently headless, faced an embarrassing situation when the Supreme Court asked it not to give effect to its direction asking broadcasters to roll back the 27.5 per cent tariff hike for non-addressable areas until the next hearing.


The matter has been fixed for next hearing on 4 August.


The regulator had just yesterday asked broadcasters to revise their wholesale tariffs, even though it had noted that the Supreme Court had declined to stay the order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) setting aside the amendments in two tariff orders, which had sought to put an inflation-linked hike of 27.5 per cent on addressable and non-addressable systems.


Effectively, this comes as a major relief to broadcasters who will not have to revise the wholesale tariff to those that existed before the implementation of the two tariff orders, which had been struck down by TDSAT.


The directive was given when appellants Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Star India, Vijay Television, Viacom18 and Sun TV sought early hearing of their challenge to the TDSAT order of 28 April.


The appellants have sought stay on the ground of wholesale price index. They also sought to argue that there was consultation prior to issuance of the Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eleventh Amendment) Order, 2014’ and ‘The Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Thirteenth Amendment) Order, 2014’ and these were not strictly Tariff orders.


Holding the Tariff orders as ‘untenable’, TDSAT had said TRAI “will be well advised to have a fresh look at the various tariff orders in a holistic manner and come out with a comprehensive tariff order in supersession of all the earlier tariff orders.”


“While doing so, it may consider all the agreements and relevant data available with it. It may consider differentiating between content which is of a monopolistic nature as against that the like of which is shown by other channels also.”

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