Bombay HC to hear final arguments in Broadcasters vs. TRAI case


The Bombay high court on Thursday asked the broadcasters, government of India and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to submit any additional submissions, by August 31st in the matter related to the new tariff order (NTO) amendments for the broadcasting sector.
Hearing on the matter via video conferencing, the division bench of Justice AA Sayed and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai informed all the parties that the court wants to pronounce a final verdict and not an interim one.
Justice Sayed said that while 95% of hearing was done, if there is anything remaining, all the parties can give written submissions in 10 days and court can hear the case on September 2-3 and 7th-8th for final verdict.
The court also clarified that while there is no stay on the regulations, no coercive steps are to be taken by the regulator. TRAI had, on January 1, notified amendments to the tariff order of 2017, changes that were challenged in the Bombay high court by the broadcasters.
The parties to challenge TRAI were Star & Disney India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE), Sony Pictures Network India (SPN) and TV18, along with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the Film and TV Producers Guild of India.
After hearing the arguments from all the parties, the court had reserved its judgement on March 4th, when the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a protracted lockdown. In absence of any interim relief in the matter, on July 24, Trai asked the broadcasters to comply with NTO 2.0 and publish the revised rates of their respective channels and bouquets by August 10.
The broadcasters once again approached the court for relief as they believe NTO 2.0 severely impacts their pricing ability. Under the new regulation, Trai has reduced the cap on the MRP of individual channels, which were part of any bouquet, to Rs 12 per month (from earlier Rs 19) and has also imposed twin conditions for the bouquet formation, which restricts the discount on channel bouquets to around 33%.


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