Discovery Communications questions transparency, objectivity of recent TRAI consultation paper

Discovery Communications India along with others filed a petition against the CP in the Delhi HC.

MUMBAI: Discovery Communications India along with others filed a petition against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in the Delhi High Court for quashing the consultation paper floated on tariff-related issues for broadcasting and cable services.

“The petitioner submits that the impugned consultation paper is marred by judicial impropriety in as much as the impugned consultation paper fails to conform to the fundamental tenets of transparency and objectivity, by proceeding with a pre-determined notion that channel broadcasters have distorted the broadcasting market and consumer choice through perverse pricing and deep discounting, and have therefore called for suggestions on the ways and means to remedy the situation,” it said.

“Being aggrieved by the pre-conceived and pre-determined approach of the respondent that is writ large on the face of the impugned consultation paper, the petitioners are constrained to approach this Hon'ble Court under its extraordinary writ jurisdiction to challenge the validity and legality of the process initiated under the Impugned consultation paper by the respondent, which clearly lacks objectivity, transparency and fairness of approach,” it added.

One of the basic grounds for the petition is that the process of consultation is flawed as well as lacks objectivity. It has also been said that the consultation paper on the new tariff order issued by the respondent demonstrates a pre-determined approach of TRAI with respect to the broadcasters, which defeats the very purpose of such consultation. The petitioner has also submitted that the consultation paper contains serious allegations against the broadcaster.

It has also been claimed that the consultation paper lacks objectivity, transparency and fairness in approach while 'transparency' is the basis of any consultation process. Hence, the impugned consultation paper fails to conform to the fundamental tenets of transparency and objectivity by asking leading questions in a public consultation exercise.

“It is submitted that the respondent has vitiated the process of consultation by issuing leading questions along with conclusive statements making allegations against the petitioner. The petitioner submits that the respondent has approached with a close-mind at the stage of consultation process itself,” the petitioners said in the petition.

Moreover, it also states that the consultation paper has the effect of interfering with the right of the broadcasters with reference to the manner in which, they would want to offer their product in bouquets and to such extent it is a direct infringement with the content of the broadcaster.

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