TRAI Tariff Order: Some stakeholders welcome it, others waiting for clarity

TRAI's announcement of implementation of tariff order was immediately followed up by a contempt petition against the regulator by Tata Sky, which was later withdrawn after court said that there was no issue of contempt

e4m by Nishant Saxena
Updated: Jul 5, 2018 8:58 AM

The tariff order (Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2017) upheld by the Madras High Court has come into effect, as announced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India through a press note on July 3, 2018.
When exchange4media approached several industry leaders to comment on the move by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, we received mixed views. While some welcomed it, others said they require more time to analyse it.

“We are very positive and are working with a positive mind. We welcome this move,” SN Sharma, CEO, DEN Networks, told exchange4media.
However, another senior industry official on the condition of anonymity spoke in detail on how the press note “doesn’t give clarity".
“Madras High Court stated that the capping on the discounts is arbitrary so if you see Para 8 of the press release it says that the tariff order and the regulation as upheld by the Madras High Court has been implemented which technically creates an impression that TRAI is cognizant of the fact that both the cap on discounting in the tariff order as well as the cap on discounting in Regulation 7(4) will not be implemented,” said the senior industry official.
He added, “Second view is where it becomes very complicated. If you see para 9, it somewhere says that all provisions of the regulations and the tariff order will be implemented. So, one of the two paragraphs can’t be true because Madras High Court has taken the view that the cap on discount is arbitrary."
The announcement was immediately followed up by a contempt petition against the regulator by Tata Sky, which was later withdrawn after the court said that there was no issue of contempt.

According to a source, Tata Sky’s objection is that TRAI did not inform the Delhi High Court before announcing in the press release that the tariff order has come into effect from Tuesday. Although, in the press note, TRAI has also mentioned that “in compliance to the direction of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, in its order dated 29th August 2017, the Authority has duly filed an affidavit to this effect on 3rd July 2018 before the Hon’ble Court.”

In its August 29, 2017 order, the Delhi HC had told TRAI that “upon the pronouncement of the judgment by the High Court of Madras, the respondents shall inform the petitioners of the outcome in the judgment and shall inform this court as well before effectuating the orders."

Briefing about the court order, TRAI counsel Saket Singh told exchange4media, “The court said that this is not a case of contempt. They (Tata Sky) should move an appropriate application for stay, after which Tata Sky withdrew its petition and sought permission to file a fresh application.”

"While Tata Sky did file a contempt petition which was primarily on the point that TRAI didn’t inform the petitioners before implementing the tariff order as directed by the Delhi High Court, what has happened is that when the affidavit was filed, it didn’t get listed,” a source closely associated with the matter told us.

Tata Sky’s petition is scheduled to be heard in the Delhi High Court on July 19, 2018. “The Tariff Order has come out through proper consultation process and it should get implemented. Star doesn’t want it to be implemented for some super profits coming to them,” further said the senior official, welcoming the implementation of tariff order.
On the other hand, a senior official in the broadcasting industry, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Broadcasters are hit because subscription revenues will fall. We thought that Star India would challenge it in the Supreme Court but as of now they haven’t."
“The Authority is of the view that implementation of the new regulatory framework will bring in transparency, enable provisioning of affordable broadcasting and cable TV services for the consumer at the same time, would lead to an orderly growth of the sector,” the regulator said in its statement.

In the press note, while announcing that the tariff order has come into effect, the Authority also gave the following timeline:
• 60 days to Broadcasters for declaration of MRP and nature of Channels• 180 days to MSO for declaration of Network Capacity Fee
• 60 days to Broadcasters for publication of Reference Interconnect Offer
• 60 days to distributors for publishing of Reference Interconnect Offer
• 150 days for signing the Interconnect Agreement
• 180 days for migration of subscribers to new framework
• 120 days for establishment of Customer Care Centre, Website, Consumer Care Channel and Publication of Manual of Practice.

exchange4media has reached out to Tata Sky for comments, the report will be updated if and when they respond. 
With inputs from Sonam Saini

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