Broadcasters are gearing up to challenge the TRAI order on capping the MRP of pay channels at Rs 5 in CAS areas and are seeking legal options. Though at the outset everybody is saying that they are weighing all options, including the legal one, industry sources say TRAI’s order may be challenged within a week’s time.
“The broadcasters will take their individual legal recourse on the issue instead of going together through a forum like IBF. Since TDSAT does not have a chairman as yet, they may have to move the Delhi High Court,” industry sources observed.
The broadcasters’ representative body, the Indian Broadcast Federation (IBF), met on September 2, 2006 to discuss the implications of the TRAI order. Briefing newspersons after the meet, Peter Mukerjea, CEO, STAR Group India, said, “The regulator is unnecessarily intervening in the pricing of channels. It should be left to the market force to decide on the best way to ensure effective competition.”
“If the Government is not regulating the price of newspapers, why should it control the pricing structure of television channels?” Mukerjea asked. On the issue of challenging the order in a court of law, he said, “We are weighing all options, including the legal one. We are yet to take a final decision.”
IBF will also seek an appointment with I&B Minister, Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, to apprise him the concerns of the industry.
IBF also discussed the Broadcast Bill at the meeting. It has constituted a sub-committee comprising Mukerjea, Deepak Shourie of Discovery, Jawahar Goel of Zee Group and Chintamani Rao of India TV. The sub-committee will decide on IBF’s response and will put it to the body before presenting it to the I&B Ministry. The last date for submitting responses on the Broadcast Bill is September 10, 2006.