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SC refuses to stay TRAI’s new tariff order, issues notices

Even though the Supreme Court has refused to stay the TRAI’s new tariff order (NTO 2.0), broadcasters are unlikely to implement it until the court’s final order.

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Abhishek Malhotra, Managing Partner, TMT Law Practice, said that the broadcasters will not be filing fresh reference interconnect offers (RIO) and will wait till the next hearing on September 7. The deadline to file the new tariff with TRAI was August 12th.

“The Supreme Court has recognised that this is an important matter and needs to be heard. Broadcasters will need to file an RIO. However, the non-coercion order continues, and the court has not dismissed the interim applications. So broadcasters will wait a bit before they file the new RIO,” Malhotra said.

A senior member at Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) concurred. “So far, we have not yet discussed the matter with the broadcasters, however, we won’t be filing RIO’s as yet,” the member said.

Contested heavily
The new tariff order which mandates an MRP of ₹12 per channel, down from ₹19 earlier, has been contested heavily by broadcasters

Earlier, the Bombay High Court had upheld the provisions for the new tariff orders (NTO 2.0).

Shreya Suri, Partner (Tech and Advisory) at IndusLaw said “the Bombay High Court judgment was a very well-reasoned order. If the broadcasters comply and file an RIO when the matter is , TRAI could use that as grounds to argue for NTO 2.0 to be upheld since it has already been complied with.”

Vivan Sharan, an economist covering the Media and Entertainment industry, said “It is my sincerest hope that the Supreme Court does not leave the door open for public interest to serve as an excuse for the encroachment of the State on press freedoms in television. The fact that the justices issued notice indicates that they are aware of the implications of this case for freedom of speech in the nation.” The Hindu BusinessLine

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