Regulators

Tariff order: Don't notify without SC nod, TRAI told; Madras HC case to continue

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NEW DELHI: Declining to stay proceedings in the Madras High Court, the Supreme Court today said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India could continue with its work relating to consultation papers and tariff orders, but will not notify these without first referring them to the apex court.

The apex court direction came on an appeal by TRAI against an order of the Madras High Court. When contacted by indiantelevision.com, TRAI said it has no comments to make on the Supreme Court directive or on the course of action in the high court.

The high court had, on 12 January 2017, extended the status quo ordered by it on 23 December 2016 with regard to any tariff orders or regulations for the broadcast sector that related to copyrights issue. The HC was informed that India’s telecoms and broadcast regulator had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. After today’s apex court directive, the case filed by Star TV and Vijay TV will come up in the Madras High Court as slated on 19 January 2017.

The petitioner-broadcasters had sought to argue that the TRAI orders on tariff regulations were broadly in conflict with the Copyright Act 1957. Pending the full hearing of the case, TRAI would not be able to pass any guidelines for issues such as broadcast tariff, broadcast interconnect, etc.

A few months ago, TRAI had issued draft guidelines on tariff, interconnect and quality of service wherein it had suggested various parameters for stakeholders of the broadcast and cable sectors.

It may be recalled that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had said in a submission to the TRAI drafts last year that the exercise was in direct conflict with the provisions of the Copyright Act and other international copyrights laws, especially the Berne Convention. The IBF had said the Copyright Board is fully empowered to adjudicate upon disputes between any person and Content or Broadcast Reproduction Rights owners. Hence the Copyright Act and Rules provide for protection, monetisation, enforcement and adjudication procedures for all copyrightable work and broadcast reproduction rights.

Meanwhile, weighing in with the IBF, Asian pay TV industry body CASBA today in a statement said that it has long expressed concern about India’s previous rate regulations, which included a cable retail price freeze imposed in 2004 “until the market became more competitive” and never revoked.

Also read:   TRAI regulations threaten investment, warns CASBAA

Also read:   Maintain status quo on broadcast guidelines, Madras HC tells TRAI

Also read:   TRAI tariff: Madras HC extends status quo; SC to hear regulator's appeal on 16 Jan

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