Star TV challenges Trai's power to regulate broadcasting services.
The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal today stayed the directive of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to fix the increase in cable television rates at 4 per cent.
Trai had recommended a 4 per cent increase in cable television charges starting January 1, 2006. Trai has frozen the cable television charges as a part of its exercise to regulate the sector by ushering in a new distribution model.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court today issued notices to the Trai and the ministry of information and broadcasting on a petition filed by Star India Pvt Ltd challenging Trai’s power to regulate broadcasting services and capping the price increase at 4 per cent.
Star had sought quashing of Trai’s orders (originally issued as a pro-term measure on January 15, 2004) imposing price cap on the charges payable to it on the ground that it was unreasonable, the petition filed through J Sagar Associates stated.
The power vested with the Trai, an independent regulatory body, to regulate broadcasting services was in violation of the doctrine of non-delegation of essential legislative function, it alleged.
Besides, the impugned notification and interconnect regulation was not only contrary to the Trai Act and violated the Constitution of India but also placed unreasonable restriction on it’s constitutional right to conduct its lawful business, Star TV said.
According to Star TV, it had appealed the Trai to discontinue with the price freeze and make it free from any restriction allowing the channels to levy subscription depending on the programmes they were showing.
However, the Trai had, without giving due consideration to the ground realities of the broadcasting industry, conveyed that it would continue with the price freeze on levy of subscription rate from the consumers.
The Trai had exercised its powers of regulating price without distinguishing between the competitive from the monopolistic segment of the broadcasting industry, it contended.
Delhi High Court issues notices to Trai, I&B ministry on a petition filed by Star India Pvt Ltd
Trai had recommended a 4 per cent increase in cable TV charges starting January 1, 2006
Star TV said Trai’s orders imposing price cap on the charges payable to it was unreasonable
The notification and interconnect regulation put unreasonable restriction on Star’s constitutional right to conduct its lawful business, Star TV said