The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused the plea of Indian Broadcasting Foundation (hereinafter IBF) for ad-interim relief but admitted their petition. The Court directed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (hereinafter TRAI) to respond within a week and set 22nd January 2020 for next hearing. The petition was filed by IBF on behalf of all the television broadcasters in India against the new TRAI amendments and interconnected regulations.
Facts leading to the petition
TRAI on January 1st, 2020 issued notification of its new amendments. As per the new amendments the price cap to pay for channels were reduced from Rs 19 to Rs 12, further discounts on bouquet channels were capped at 33 per cent instead of the earlier cap of 80 per cent. This also meant that now consumers won’t be obliged to buy the bouquets which were created by the broadcasters. Further the free to air channels were also increased from 100 channels to 200 at a base price of Rs 153.
Broadcasters had to publish the new MRPs as per the TRAI amendments in their websites by 15th January and operators were asked to comply with the revised prices by January 30th. The revised pricing would have been affective for 1st of March 2020. The broadcasters had issues with the new amendment and filed a combined petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the new amendments.
- Bombay HC admitted the petition put forward by the IBF, but rejected their plea for ad-interim relief.
- The Court asked TRAI to respond within a week, as TRAI asked for time to respond stating that IBF had been notified weeks before and chose to file a petition just days before they had to publish the new prices.
- Court allowed TRAIs request and gave them one week time to respond and set next hearing on 22nd
The petition and the Order
The IBF on behalf of Sony Entertainment, Star India which is owned by Walt Disney, TV18, Zee Entertainment, Producers Guild of India and others filed a combined petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the new amendments and interconnection regulations brought by TRAI. They also pleaded for ad-interim relief and stay on the amendment order till the time the Court decides on the matter. The broadcasters are of the opinion that if the new amendments come into force it’ll hamper the growth of the industry.
TRAI argued that the broadcasters were aware of the amendment through notification issued by TRAI on January 1st but they decided to file the petition just days before they had to comply with the said amendment. They had to publish the revised prices in their websites by January 15th and the filed the petition just days before that. Concluding, TRAI request the Hon’ble Court for time to respond to the petition.
On hearing both the sides the Division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice RI Chagla of the Bombay High Court decided to admit the petition put forward by the IBF, but refused their plea for ad-interim relief. The High Court gave TRAI a week time to respond to the petition and set 22nd January, 2020 as the next date of hearing.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Live Law Bombay HC Refuses Urgent relief to Television Broadcasters Challenging TRAI’s new Amended Tariff Order, https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/bombay-hc-refuses-urgent-relief-to-television-broadcasters-challenging-trais-amended-new-tariff-order-151635?infinitescroll=1 (last visited 16th January, 2020 12:32 PM)
2. The Economic Times, HC Admits Plea of Broadcasters, TRAI gets a week to Respond, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/media/entertainment/hc-admits-pleas-of-broadcasters-trai-gets-a-week-to-respond/articleshow/73265964.cms (last visited 16th January, 2020 12:32 PM)