Regulators

TRAI tariff: AIDCF impleads in Tata Sky, Airtel Digital pleas

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today allowed the All India Dgital Cable Federation to get impleaded in the direct-to-home platforms TataSky and Airtel Digital challenge to the Tariff and the Reference Interconnect Orderregulations.by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal listed the matter for 16 August 2017 as the Regulations come into force from 2 September 2017. The bench permitted AIDCF to make legal submissions.

Although the cases were listed separately, the bench had on 12 May 2017 decided to hear the matters together since similar grounds had been raised and had issued notice to TRAI.

The Court had also issued notice on an application by the two platforms seeking a stay of the tariff order.

The petitions are seeking an order not only for setting aside these regulations, but also some sub-sections of Section 11 of the TRAI Act 1997 as being violative of the Constitution.

The respondents are both TRAI and Union of India.

Indiantelevision.com had earlier reported that the primary problem arises from the fact that all stakeholders will have to abide by the rates fixed by the broadcaster according to the new tariff order.

The DTH players are agitated not only with the fact that they pay over 85 per cent of the service tax and entertainment tax in the digitised universe, but the fact that their liberty to make their own bouquets may be taken away with the broadcasters having the say in fixing rates for individual channels.

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.

TRAI had first come out with a draft tariff order in October 2016 but later issued the orders on 3 March after getting the green signal from the apex court even as a Star India and Vijay TV case was pending in the Madras High Court. The broadcasters have challenged the regulations under the Copyright Act on the ground that content does not come in the ambit of TRAI.

The Supreme Court on 8 May stayed the operation of the regulations but asked the High Court to dispose of the casewithin four weeks. The High Court has since heard arguments by all parties and has sought written submissions on 27 July 2017.

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