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Madras HC declines to stay Trai’s tariff order

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-04-2017 Harveen Ahluwalia

New Delhi: The Madras high court has refused to grant stay on the tariff order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), following a petition brought by the television broadcaster Star India Pvt. Ltd and its subsidiary Vijay Television Pvt. Ltd.

Star and Vijay Television had filed the petition on the grounds that the tariff regulations issued by Trai stand in conflict with the Copyright Act, 1957. The Madras high court in December had ordered Trai to maintain a status quo on the tariff order.

In its order, Trai has proposed a new tariff framework for pricing and packaging of TV channels offered to subscribers, listing channel genres and a cap on the channel prices.

Additionally, households across the country will now have to pay only Rs130 per month, excluding taxes, to access 100 standard definition television channels.

“Initial 100 standard definition (SD) channels can be availed by a subscriber by paying an amount not exceeding Rs130 (excluding taxes) per month to the distributor of TV channels,” the regulator had said in the order.

Trai had released draft order in October 2016 and the final order was notified in March 2017.

Considering that no multi-system operator or cable operator has come forward to support Star’s plea, “we are of the view that petitioners have not made out a strong and prima facie case for inter in stay,” the court said in its order.

“We have also kept in mind the larger public good plea made by the learned Additional Solicitor General,” the court added. However, the court will hear the case on Trai’s jurisdiction to regulate tariff framework (main petition) on 12 June.

“The order is in the interest of the consumers. A consumer should not be forced to watch anything he/she doesn’t want to. We have worked on this order for almost a year holding consultations and analysing them. Consumers should get value for money,” said R.S. Sharma, chairman at Trai.

The tariff order is slated to come into force on 3 May.

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