Trai Tariff Order on DTH Sector Held by Apex Court, Star India Legal Appeal Dismissed

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Last week, the apex court supported the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) tariff order and interconnect regulations relating to pricing and packaging of DTH channels being offered to subscribers. The court has listed channels genre-wise and has set an upper cap on the pricing of the genre-wise sorted channels. Notably, it was on July 3 when Trai implemented the Telecommunication Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations 2017 and also charted a prospective timeline for the broadcasting companies with the deadline set as August 31.

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For the unaware, a two-member bench comprising Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha on Tuesday dismissed the plea challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) March 2017 regulations and tariff order relating to fixation of charges for free and pay channels.

As per the new tariff order, the MRP was set to be declared by the broadcasters along with the nature of all channels within 60 days. Further, companies including distribution platform operators were asked to furnish network capacity fee along with distribution retail price (DRP) before the 6-month deadline.

A bench which comprised of Justice Rohinton F. Nariman and Navin Sinha also dismissed a legal challenge by Star India Pvt. Ltd which was filed in Madras High Court for upholding Trai’s draft regulations to keep the broadcasting companies at bay from mixing free-to-air channels with pay channels.

Star along with Vijay Television had moved court on the grounds that the tariff regulations given by the industry watchdog were clashing with the rules laid down in Copyright Act, 1957.

Following this development, on 23 May, a split verdict on the issue by Justice MM Sundresh of the Madras High Court confirming the findings of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee after which the regulator’s tariff order was upheld that was issued in March 2017 for the television broadcasting sector.

To recall, on the draft regulations issued on 3 March 2017, Trai had laid out a new tariff framework thus putting guidelines for the prices and packaging of TV channels being offered to the customers.

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