Backing TRAI, interveners claim pricing power rests with regulator

Besides the Indian Broadcasting Foundation,the All India Digital Cable Federation and Videocon d2h are interveners in the tariff order dispute being heard by the Madras High Court

e4m by Saif Ahmad Khan
Published: Jul 18, 2017 6:38 PM  | 2 min read

Supporting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s tariff order and interconnect regulations, the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) and Videocon d2h defended the powers of the government’s regulator viz-a-viz pricing before the Madras High Court on July 17. Reading out from a notification issued in 2004, sources informed exchange4media that AIDCF’s counsel stressed on the usage of the words “periodicity” and “revision of rates” during the course of the pleadings.

A large chunk of the AIDCF’s arguments, a representative body of multiple system operators (MSOs), was built on by invoking the said terms. “They argued that the power to regulate the pricing of a pay channel was given to TRAI through that notification,” claimed a source. Going further, it was mentioned by AIDCF that the Cable TV Network Act, 2011 and the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012 left the “source of (TRAI’s) power untouched” which effectively allows them to control pricing.

Moreover, references were made towards a judgement delivered by Justice Sen of the Delhi High Court in 2007 which in a way solidified TRAI’s regulatory position by rejecting the grounds on which Star India’s challenge was registered. Therefore, it was contended that the petition being heard at present was a “re-litigation” of sorts. A considerable amount of time was also spent on explaining the concept of broadcast reproduction right (BRR) with emphasis on the role of both copyright owner and seeker. The intervener insisted that broadcasters are bound by the mandatory injunction to share their signals with the distribution platform operators (DPOs).

Sources narrated that Videocon d2h “echoed the same things” with a few additional arguments. Dismissing the constitutional challenge posed to TRAI’s regime, Videocon d2h asserted that Article 19(1)(G) pertaining to the right to conduct business was not being hampered in the petitioner’s case. The reason furnished by Videocon d2h was that both the petitioner companies are of foreign origin. Earlier, the court led by Justice Indira Banerjee had set July 18 and 19 as the date for presenting rejoinders.

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