Delhi HC issues notices to TRAI, I&B Ministry over carriage fee for Total TV channel
The Delhi High Court has sought response from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry and broadcast regulator TRAI on a petition seeking regulation of fee charged by multi-system operators (MSOs), cable operators and DTH operators to carry Total TV channel on their platform.
While issuing notices to TRAI and I&B Ministry, Justice GS Sistani expressed the need to have rationality in fixing the charges.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Delhi-based news channel Total TV challenging the validity of carriage fees being charged by DTH operators, distributors, MSOs, and cable operators. It had approached the court after Prasar Bharati hiked the carriage fee from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 60 lakh per annum to carry the channel on its DTH platform.
“There has to be some rationality. It is not that the Court is deciding to frame regulation,” the Court said, when the counsel appearing for TRAI contended that the Court should refrain from interfering in the matter.
The contract between the channel and the DTH operator is scheduled to expire on September 5, 2008. Total TV’s counsel argued that when TRAI had not prescribed any carriage fees to be charged by distributors, such types of demands should be held illegal. It submitted that when TRAI had not prescribed any carriage fees to be charged by distributors, the same was to be held as illegal demand and such type of practice should be deprecated and discouraged.
The channel questioned the basis for fixing such charge when there were no norms or guidelines laid down by the Government. “Then on what basis do DTH firms fix the carriage fee?” channel asked.
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