Madras High Court Refuses To Stay TRAI Order On Broadcasting And Cable Rules

The Madras High Court has refused to stay an order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), bringing into force a new regulatory framework for broadcasting and cable services, fixing charges for free and pay channels from December 29.

Justice S Vaidyanathan before whom the petition filed by Chennai Metro Cable TV Operators Association came up for hearing, ordered notice to TRAI and posted the plea for further hearing on January 3.

During the hearing, TRAI counsel submitted that the litigation had already gone up to the Supreme Court and reached finality. TRAI itself has extended the time for implementation of the new regulatory framework till January 31, 2019, instead of December 29, 2018, he said.

According to the petitioner, when cable TV came into force, the programmes were relayed by cables.

Thereafter, a new system was introduced providing Set Top Box connections. The Multisystem Operators receive signal and supply them to the local cable operators, who in turn transmit the signal to the consumers. The LCOs charge a particular fee from the consumers. The LCO has a profit sharing ratio with the MSO in a 55-45 ratio.  In due course, the LCOs provide STB connections and also transmit channels through the same, the association said.

When an attempt was made to dispense with cable connection and change to STB connections a petition was filed by an MSP not to compel consumers to change to STB connection. This court granted an interim injunction. Still, consumers were viewing through analogue cable connection and not through digital set-top box connection.

While so, on the assumption that all the analog cable connections have been shifted to digital set-top box connections, the TRAI issued a notice for New Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services. This notification was passed without considering the stay orders obtained before the court. This was followed by the consequential notification fixing December 29, 2018, as the deadline for the order to come into force, the association said.― New Indian Express

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