TRAI free to issue TV tariff, Star HC case disposal in 60 days

NEW DELHI: Even as it permitted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to notify the tariff order and interconnect regulations for the broadcast sector, the Supreme Court asked the Madras High Court to dispose the original petition by Star India and Vijay TV within sixty days.

The apex court said that the High Court could continue hearing the case, which is due to come up next week.

However, it said that Star India was free to approach the court if it was aggrieved by the tariff order or any other action by TRAI in this matter. Star India could also amend the petition if needed in the event of a tariff order being issued.

“Any new cause of action arising from notifying the regulation can be taken up before the high court,” the court said.

Star India Pvt. Ltd and its subsidiary, Vijay Television Pvt. Ltd, had challenged the draft regulations before the Madras high court under the provisions of the Copyright Act and said Trai has no jurisdiction to regulate content.

Star India counsel P Chidambaram said they have challenged Trai’s assumption of jurisdiction. “Trai can only regulate carriage and not content,” Chidambaram said.

The bench of Justices P C Ghose and Rohinton F Nariman said Trai cannot seek an adjournment.

Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court that the regulation will not come into effect immediately, which gives time for Star India to move the high court and seek a stay. “Some provisions will come into effect after 30 days but the important ones will only take effect after 180 days,” Mehta said.
In the draft order issued in October 2016, Trai had proposed a new tariff framework for pricing and packaging of TV channels offered to subscribers, listing channel genres and a genre-wise ceiling on the channel prices.

Indian Broadcasting Foundation and Videocon DTH counsel were also present at the hearing.

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