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HC orders on Star plea for stay on TRAI tariff today

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NEW DELHI: Orders are expected to be pronounced tomorrow on the application by Star India and Vijay TV in Madras High Court seeking a stay of the tariff orders issued by the regulator last month and slated to become effective 2 May 2017.

Arguments concluded tomorrow after both the broadcasters and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India concluded their arguments.

The broadcasters, who have challenged the jurisdiction of the TRAI in issuing relating to TV content, 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 is that content falls under Copyright Act and does not come under the ambit of TRAI. The matter came 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.

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 .

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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