TRAI to wait for SC order before implementing tariff orders for commercial subscribers

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to wait for the verdict of Supreme Court to make further amendments to its tariff orders for commercial subscribers issued on 1st October 2014 and 21st July 2010. These tariff orders were stayed by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Arbitration Tribunal (TDSAT) on 9th March 2015.

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The amendments to tariff orders prohibited the broadcasters from providing channels directly to subscribers and brought for uniform cable television rates for commercial as well as ordinary subscribers. TDSAT scraped these orders by calling them as arbitrary and unreasonable, in an appeal filed by an association of television broadcasters and two individual broadcasters.

The tribunal blamed TRAI for failing to recognize that the tariff orders make no distinction between a viewer who uses television for personal purpose and a commercial organization who uses television with an intention to derive benefit from it. However, TRAI was of the opinion that a commercial and individual viewer of television stands in par with each other on two grounds, the content is same and that the cost to the broadcaster and the distributor remains the same.

TRAI went ahead and filed an appeal against the stay before apex court and decided to keep the orders on hold till the court decides the verdict. On 16th April, 2014, Supreme Court directed TRAI to re-consider the matter and said it will take a decision within three months after hearing the contentions of all stakeholders.

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