Broadcasters write to Bombay HC requesting timely verdict on NTO 2.0 case

TRAI also wrote to Bombay HC requesting urgent listing of the matter

KOLKATA: Broadcasters have lodged an application before the Bombay high court requesting speedy pronouncement of verdict in the amended new tariff order (NTO 2.0) case.

The petitioners have mentioned that detailed arguments on the case were heard in September-October 2020. Subsequently, the judgement was reserved via an order on 20 October. However, the revised tariff regime has not been implemented so far and TV broadcasting ecosystem has continued to operate under the NTO price regime implemented in 2019.

“It is submitted that the judgement remains reserved and since the issues pending for adjudication before the honourable court are substantial, an early pronouncement of judgement will be in the best interest of all stakeholder,” the petition read.

In this regard, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also wrote to Bombay high court in late February requesting urgent listing of the case, so that a verdict may be passed soon in the matter. An industry source close to the developments in the court said at that time: "With this filing of application before the Bombay high court, the newly appointed chairman of TRAI, PD Vaghela has made it clear that the authority seeks to implement NTO 2.0 as soon as possible. “

TRAI’s decision to implement NTO 2.0 in the beginning of 2020 came as a shocker for the broadcasting industry. In an unprecedented move, all major broadcasters came together to challenge the new tariff regime in court. Following continuous hearings from the end of February to early March 2020, the judgment was reserved on 4 March, after which the lockdown was imposed. A praecipe dated 15 June was filed by TRAI for the verdict. Post that, the matter was heard throughout September- October. The parties in conflict have wrapped up their arguments and written submissions have also been filed.

The authority has defended its decision saying the amendments will usher in better consumer offerings. On the other hand, the industry stated the over-interference of TRAI, especially in the area of pricing, is hurting the stability of the sector. TRAI released directives for immediate implementation of NTO 2.0 even during the pandemic, which was restrained by the Bombay high court.

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