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TDSAT disallows stay to broadcasters’ petition against pricing in non-CAS areas

23-November-2007
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TDSAT disallows stay to broadcasters’ petition against pricing in non-CAS areas

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has allowed Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) order of October 4, 2007 to be continued. The order was in reaction to petitions filed by broadcasters against guidelines by TRAI on pricing of cable TV channels in areas that do not have conditional access system (CAS).

The regulation of October 4, 2007 by TRAI, which had directed broadcasters to provide their channels on a pick-and-choose basis, had gathered wrath of leading broadcasters. Broadcasters had challenged TRAI’s guidelines on pricing of cable TV charges in non-CAS areas, before TDSAT.

According to TDSAT, the broadcasters would have to report the prices being charged on an a la carte basis, with effect from December 1. TRAI’s guidelines on pricing of cable TV charges in areas without CAS access come into effect from December 1. The tribunal also rejected the broadcasters’ plea for early hearing before the said date.

“Today’s order has come in favour of TRAI. The broadcasters have been contradicting themselves because they are talking of consumer interests, while on the other hand, they are not agreeing to pricing on an a la carte basis,” said Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Association of India (COAI).

The broadcasters contended that there was no addressability mechanism to detect, whether consumers were availing the benefit on the a la carte basis or not. According to TDSAT’s order, the multiple system operators (MSOs) will have to ensure that the benefits of broadcasters giving channels through a la carte must reach the consumers.

In their petition, broadcasters have alleged that the price fixation by TRAI’s October 4 regulation is “arbitrary and discriminatory”. According to them, TRAI failed to protect their interest and the regulation was lopsided to favour cable operators and MSOs.

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