TRAI asked to re-notify broadcasters in light of SC judgment rejecting tariff orders

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been urged to re-notify its letter to pay broadcasters dated 23 July, requesting the rates for their respective pay TV channels with prescribed MRP as well, along with the duration of advertisements shown.


In a letter to TRAI chairman R S Sharma, Home Cable Networks (P) Ltd head Vikki Chodhary said, “Needless to say, the exercise needs to be conducted keeping in view the interest of the consumers at large and to also ensure a level playing field on non-discriminatory terms with parity in conducting this business.”  


The regulator had asked broadcasters on 23 July 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.


The very next day – 24 July – the Supreme Court stayed implementation of this letter in view of appeal by Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and others challenging the order by TDSAT on Chaudhary's petition relating to tariff.


While dismissing the appeal challenging TDSAT's order, the Supreme Court on 4 August asked TRAI to come up with new tariffs as early as possible.


The Court also said the multi-system operators (MSOs) will not insist on a refund of their payments to broadcasters but will wait for the new tariff orders.


Thus, the apex Court held intact the 28 April order of the Tribunal holding as ‘untenable’ the Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eleventh Amendment) Order, 2014’ and ‘The Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Thirteenth Amendment) Order, 2014’.


In his letter to Sharma, Chaudhary has drawn TRAI's attention to observations by TDSAT that the regulator “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. It may also consider classifying the content into premium and basic tiers.”


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