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Calcutta HC vacates stay on TRAI tariff order, hands LCOs time till 8 February

80 cable operators had filed a petition against the TRAI mandate

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MUMBAI: In a major development, the Calcutta High Court, which has jurisdiction over West Bengal and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, on Thursday vacated the stay imposed by it on the implementation of the tariff order till February 18.

Local cable operators (LCOs) have now been given time till 8 February to negotiate contracts with multi-system operators (MSOs). Thereon, revenue share within the distribution value chain will be split in line with the TRAI’s tariff order.

On Wednesday, the court had asked the TRAI to submit a report on the matter on 13 February, which is when the next hearing was due to take place. The court’s directive was a result of 80 cable operators filing a petition against the TRAI mandate.

However, realizing the urgency of the situation, the regulator's lawyers, on Wednesday itself, filed an application to vacate the stay. 

In its application, TRAI had argued that the court had been misled by the petitioners, and placed the Supreme Court judgment in the court. 

The petitioners’ lawyer Debabrata Saha Roy argued that the revenue-sharing model under the new regime will significantly reduce the cable operators’ share to just nine per cent. 

With 80% will go into the broadcasters’ kitty, MSOs stand to get just 11 per cent, thus making it an unsustainable business proposition for operators.

Earlier the regulator had offered an extension till 31 January to the distribution platform operators (DPOs) for implementation.  

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