Shortly after the Madras High Court dismissed Star India’s plea on April 28 seeking a stay on the implementation of tariff order and interconnect regulations, an advisory was sent across by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) to its member multiple system operators (MSOs). As per the same, AIDCF-affiliated MSOs were requested to publish their Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO) within the stipulated deadline of May 2. Speaking to exchange4media on behalf of AIDCF, Secretary General Saharsh Damani noted that the distributors were well prepared to furnish the details on their website.
He, however, noted that the channel pricing rates will have to come in from the side of the broadcasters. “If the broadcasters don’t come out with RIOs then it becomes a challenge for MSOs and distributors,” said Damani, urging broadcasters to act in accordance with the court’s order. As interveners in the tariff order dispute between Star India and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the AIDCF opposed the former’s plea for an interim stay and joined forces with the Government of India and its regulatory body for the tariff order’s timely implementation.
Operating primarily out of Delhi and Noida, the AIDCF is a representative body of about 10 MSOs including Den Networks Ltd., Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd., and Indusind Media & Communications, among others. Keeping aside AIDCF, the bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar observed that not even a single MSO out of more than 1,000 across the country came forward in court to support the interim stay petition. On the other hand, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), another intervener in the case representing over 50 broadcasters, sided with Star’s plea before the court which was fiercely opposed by Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan who appeared on behalf of the Government of India.
Nevertheless, the court noted that though IBF was in favour of a stay, it had been brought to its notice that several broadcasters under the wing of the IBF now had a positive stance towards the tariff order. The two-judge bench eventually dismissed Star’s plea since they were unable to make a strong and prima facie case for an interim stay as it fixed June 12 as the final date of hearing viz-a-viz the main writ petition.