On Wednesday the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) submitted before the Bombay High Court that the New Tariff Order brought by TRAI was done so to discourage the anti-consumer practices of the Telecom Broadcasters and distributors. The Division Bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice RI Chagla has been hearing the plea which was filed by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) challenging New Tariff Order.
The Plea till now
TRAI on January 1st, 2020 issued notification of its new amendments. As per the new amendments, the price cap to pay for channels was reduced from Rs 19 to Rs 12, further discounts on the bouquet channels were capped at 33 percent instead of the earlier cap of 80 percent. 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 effective for the 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.
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. 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’s time to respond to the petition.
- TRAI submits that the New Tariff Order is made to protect the interest of the consumers.
- The bouquet made by the broadcasters cannot be at the cost of the freedom of the consumers to choose their own channels.
- The impugned order will provide a better choice for the consumers and will make broadcasting services affordable for the consumers without affecting the freedom of the broadcasters.
TRAI submitted that they are of the opinion that the TRAI act is viewed as a protector of interest of both the service providers and consumers. The New Tariff Order was made to create a new comprehensive code for the broadcasting sector. So that the consumers get the benefits of a meaningful and informed choice and the broadcasters and distributors can work in a non-discriminatory and transparent environment, was done to discourage the anti-consumer practices of the Telecom Broadcasters and distributors.
TRAI also submitted that the broadcasters force the bouquet channels to the consumers, this deprives the consumers of their right to choose freely and serve better for the commercial interests of the broadcasters. TRAI doesn’t have any issues with bouquet channels but it should not be at the cost of the consumers’ right to choose. The impugned order will provide a better choice for the consumers and will make broadcasting services affordable for the consumers without affecting the freedom of the broadcasters.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Bar and Bench, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/new-tariff-order-to-discourage-the-anti-consumer-practice-by-television-broadcasters-and-distributors-trai-tells-bombay-hc (Last visited 24th January 2020 1:59 PM)
2. Live Law, https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/provisions-of-trai-act-must-be-viewed-in-light-of-protection-of-interests-of-both-consumers-and-broadcasters-trai-tells-bombay-hc-151925?infinitescroll=1 (Last visited 24th January 2020 1:59 PM)