The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has rejected an appeal by private broadcasters Set Discovery and ESPN Star Sports against regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s order of fixing Rs 5 as the price of channels to be offered under CAS.
“We find nothing wrong in the process undertaken by the authority. The approach of TRAI in regulating the CAS regime in its introductory stage in the notified areas is fully justified,” TDSAT Chairman Justice Arun Kumar said.
Taking into account TRAI’s effort to fix the price, the TDSAT Bench observed: “The exercise was complex. In our view, TRAI has acted fairly by balancing the competing interests.”
The tribunal also directed each of the broadcasters to pay Rs 50,000 to TRAI as cost of litigation, observing: “This being a transitory phase, the appellants ought to have patience and ought to have wait. The hurry on their part to raise the issue before the tribunal was not necessary.”
On August 24, 2006, TRAI had issued notification for implementation of CAS and had fixed a ceiling price of Rs 5 for each channel in the CAS-notified areas in the four metros. The broadcasters challenged fee before the tribunal on the pretext that such price structure would render the business unviable.
Set Discovery and ESPN Star Sports had also challenged TRAI’s revenue sharing model, under which they were to receive 45 per cent of the Rs 5 while the rest was to be shared between the multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators. They also prayed before the tribunal for larger share as they provided the content for channels.