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Apex court dismisses Star India plea against TRAI tariff order

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 30, 2018 Published on October 30, 2018

Upholds ruling barring broadcasters from mixing free-to-air with pay channels in bouquets

The Supreme Court today dismissed Star India’s plea challenging the Madras High court order, which had earlier upheld Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulations preventing broadcasting companies from mixing free-to-air channels with pay channel in bouquets.

The ruling is a setback to Star India, which had moved the apex court on the grounds that the tariff regulations issued by TRAI were in conflict with the Copyright Act, 1957.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha dismissed the Star India petition challenging the Madras High Court order passed in May 2018. TRAI implemented the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017 on July 3, 2018 after it was upheld by the Madras High Court.

While bringing the order into effect, TRAI prescribed timelines for the stakeholders and the deadline for the implementation of the order was August 31.

Most broadcasters, including Zee Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Disney India, Turner International and Sun TV have published their Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO), which details the price and other terms and conditions of a broadcaster to permit interconnection of another carrier to its network. Star, however, has not yet filed its RIO.

According to the TRAI order, a broadcaster cannot discriminate against any distributor and the pay channel price RIO offer should be uniform to all distributors. Moreover, the price of a la-carte channels cannot exceed ₹19 if the same is offered in a bouquet. Further, 100 free-to-air channels have to be offered at ₹130 per month.

Published on October 30, 2018
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