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SC upholds Trai’s bid to fix tariffs for broadcast sector

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-03-2017 Apurva Vishwanath

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to notify the tariff order and interconnect regulations for the broadcast sector.

“Any new cause of action arising from notifying the regulation can be taken up before the high court,” the court said.

Star India Pvt. Ltd and its subsidiary, Vijay Television Pvt. Ltd, had challenged the draft regulations before the Madras high court and argued that Trai has no jurisdiction to regulate content.

Senior advocate P. Chidambaram, appearing for Star India, said that they have challenged Trai’s assumption of jurisdiction.

“Trai can only regulate carriage and not content,” Chidambaram said.

A bench, comprising justices P.C. Ghose and Rohinton F. Nariman, said that the case will continue to be heard before the high court and Trai cannot seek an adjournment.

Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, however, told the court that the regulation will not come into effect immediately, which gives time for Star India to move the high court and seek a stay.

“Some provisions will come into effect after 30 days but the important ones will only take effect after 180 days,” Mehta said.

In the draft order issued in October 2016, Trai had proposed a new tariff framework for pricing and packaging of TV channels offered to subscribers, listing channel genres and a genre-wise ceiling on the channel prices.

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