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Star moves Delhi HC against Trai ruling on cable rates

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NEW DELHI: The mutterings in the industry over the broadcast regulator's decision to permit only an inflation-linked four per cent annual hike in cable TV prices, has finally translated into a court case.

Leading broadcaster Star India today moved the Delhi High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) edict on cable rates. The Trai administered cable price regime takes effect exactly a year after the broadcast and cable regulator had put a ceiling of seven per cent hike on cable TV prices. The order allows for a four per cent (exclusive of taxes) annual hike in cable TV prices, effective 1 January 2006.

According to industry feedback that Indiantelevision.com has received, some other broadcasters are likely to either implead their own submissions into the Star case or file separately in court against the Trai order.  

Trai has used the Whole Sale Price Index (WPI) to determine the inflation adjustment rate. "On the basis of analysis done by us, the inflation adjustment works out to four per cent," Trai said.

The regulator had conducted the first periodical review for inflation adjustment during November 2004 and a notification was issued on 1.12.2004. It provided for an increase of seven per cent over the ceiling cable charges (excluding taxes) prevailing as on 26.12.2003. This increase was made effective from 1 January 2005.

Star's case against the regulator comes close on the heels of Ten Sports and ESPN Star Sports contesting government-mandated norms relating to sharing of sporting content with the Indian pubcaster under certain provisions of the uplink and downlink guidelines that were recently notified.

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