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TRAI wins tariff order case in Supreme Court

The arguments in the case had ended on October 11

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has come out victorious in the long running battle on whether pricing of content comes under its purview. The Supreme Court has finally given the long-awaiting verdict on Star India versus Telecom Regulatory Authority of India case on tariff order while arguments related to the case ended on October 11. A source close to the development informed Indiantelevision.com that the ruling is in favour of TRAI.

Speaking on the verdict Zee and Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra said, "I am extremely glad to note the Supreme Court’s order and I think it is THE best thing that could have happened to the industry, the players in the value chain and the consumers at large. We at ZEE & Essel Group have always focused on keeping our consumers as our first priority and I am very glad that the Supreme Court’s order has empowered the consumers across the nation. While the overall media & entertainment landscape has been evolving at a rapid pace, it is for the first time in 26 years that such a strong & positive step has been taken to eradicate the lack of transparency in the entire value chain of the broadcast & cable industry. It will certainly help the LCOs, MSOs and the broadcasters.”

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) was first out of the blocks in publishing the RIO, declaring the MRP and nature of channels in connection with its tariff order , which had a 31 August deadline. The Punit Goenka-led company was followed by TV18 Broadcast Ltd ( TV18) and Sony Pictures Networks India Private Ltd (SPNI), who adhered to the regulator’s directive on 4 September. Later, Disney India, Turner India International, Sun TV Networks have also published their RIOs in compliance with the order.

Speaking on the news, AIDCF president Rajan Gupta said, “This is the watershed moment we have all been waiting for. We feel that the new framework will bring in much needed transparency, parity, promote exercising of choice for the consumer and ensure orderly growth of the sector. The onus is now on all service providers to put their best foot forward and keep consumer interest in mind by complying with the required initial timelines and activities at the earliest.”

The TRAI tariff orders, first contested in Madras High Court by the petitioners, were cleared by the Chennai court with certain riders after hearings that continued almost over 16 months in front of a two-member bench

After the Madras HC had given a thumb up to TRAI tariff order, and both the petitioners and the defendant (TRAI) had filed caveats in the Supreme Court, the regulator had bowled a googly saying that its tariff order would come into effect from 3 July 2018 as all judicial compliances had been completed.

According to TRAI, implementation of the new regulatory framework will “bring in transparency”, enable provisioning of affordable broadcasting and cable TV services for the consumer and, at the same time, “would lead to an orderly growth of the sector”.

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