The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has come to the aid of news broadcasters by directing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) not to take any “coercive action” against news channels for not implementing the agreed ad restrictions.
TDSAT’s order on August 30, 2013 comes a day after the news broadcasters met the Tribunal and sought the halt of implementation of the ad restrictions. The broadcasters raised questions on TRAI’s jurisdiction in ordering the ad cap.
TDSAT in its interim order also stated that NBA did not have to maintain weekly records of implementing the ad restrictions and submit them to TRAI. The reports only need to be submitted to TDSAT.
It may be recalled that NBA has been urging the authorities to reconsider the ad restrictions directive. Earlier this, NBA had issued a statement urging the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) and TRAI to issue a notification to keep the implementation of the 10+2 ad cap in abeyance. The NBA maintained that news channels will incur revenue losses exceeding Rs 500 crore if the ad cap is implemented at this stage (NBA urges TRAI, MIB to delay 10+2 ad cap implementation ).
NBA further stated that the current carriage fees continued to be burdensome, even as credible subscription revenues were not in place yet. These, combined with the current economic crunch in the country, would force news broadcasters to take “drastic steps”.
As per media reports, a final hearing in this matter is scheduled for November 11, 2013. With the 10+2 ad restriction slated to be implemented from October 1, it is not clear whether news channels will be adhering to this deadline.