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Delhi HC adjourns ad cap case to 1 Aug

MUMBAI: The wait in the 12-minute ad cap case gets longer with the Delhi High Court adjourning the matter to 1 August. The reason for the latest adjournment is the preoccupation of the judges with other cases.

The case, which has as many as 16 petitioners and three respondents, has been lingering on for more than two and a half years now.

In the previous hearing on 27 April, the High Court had posted the matter for hearing on 13 May since there was no time left on that day.

The petitioners, which mainly include news, music and regional broadcasters, had moved the Delhi High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) decision to amend the Standard of Quality of Service by capping ad duration at 12 minutes in a clock hour.

The matter first went to the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) where it was extensively heard. As the tribunal was preparing to proclaim its judgment in the matter, the Supreme Court in a dispute between BSNL vs TRAI ruled that the TDSAT does not have jurisdiction to entertain challenge to TRAI regulations.

The appellants immediately moved the Delhi High Court, which granted an interim stay by directing TRAI not to take coercive action against the petitioners. It also directed the petitioners to submit weekly reports in the prescribed format to TRAI.

Since then, the matter has been getting adjourned due to one reason or another. Later, Home Cable Network also impleaded itself in the matter contending that petitions challenging ad cap be quashed.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), which is a respondent in the matter, has told the court more than once that the matter is in consideration of the government.

Former I&B minister Prakash Javadekar had earlier said that the government was considering exempting free-to-air (FTA) channels from the 12-minute rule since these channels do not charge subscription fee and are dependent on ad revenue for sustenance.

Arun Jaitley, who succeeded Javadekar as I&B minister with a Cabinet rank, said that the government should not be dictating how much ads a TV channel or a newspaper could carry.

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