Star moves TDSAT against TRAI letter seeking info about delivery of linear content on OTT

The broadcasters including Star, Sony, and Sun have refused to share the detailed architecture as they believe that the TRAI doesn't have any jurisdiction on OTT

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jan 13, 2022 9:03 AM  | 2 min read
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Star India has joined Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) and Sun TV Network to challenge the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) letter asking broadcasters to provide a detailed architecture indicating which media is being used to deliver linear content to their own as well as third-party streaming platforms.
The broadcasters have challenged the TRAI's letter in Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). It is pertinent to note that the TDSAT has already directed the TRAI not to take coercive steps against broadcasters for not furnishing information related to the mode of retransmission of linear channels on over the top (OTT) platforms.
The broadcasters including Star, Sony, and Sun have refused to share the detailed architecture as they believe that the TRAI doesn't have any jurisdiction on OTT. Star’s appeal is most likely to get clubbed with Sony and Sun’s appeals.
The TDSAT had granted three weeks' time to the TRAI to file its reply on the jurisdictional issue raised by Sony and Sun. The matter has been listed on 24th January 2022 when the TDSAT will consider Sony and Sun's prayers for interim relief. In the meantime, the broadcasters will not have to provide any information to the TRAI.
Broadcasters have argued that OTT is outside the scope of regulations regardless of the fact whether they are broadcasters or not. The broadcasters also contend that they wear multiple hats and one such hat is providing their content to OTT platforms under Section 37 of the Copyright Act which gives broadcasting reproduction rights to broadcasters. They have also said that they don't use satellites or any other existing infrastructures which are regulated by TRAI.
The TRAI’s argument is that it has issued letters to the broadcasters in their capacity as broadcasters and not as OTT platforms. The TRAI argued that they have the right to seek information from broadcasters. It further stated that the information has been sought to ascertain whether or not there is a breach.
The regulator also said that the only question in the letter is how are broadcasters providing linear channels on OTT platforms without a decoder box. TRAI further stated that it is only asking for information on the Network Architecture deployed for retransmission of signals.
The tribunal had also asked the TRAI to carry out its own process to ascertain if the broadcasters are in violation of clause 5.6 of Downlinking Guidelines. Since OTT is not regulated as per TRAI's own submission, the tribunal had noted that the TRAI cannot seek this information.

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