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Madras HC’s order on Star’s prayer for stay on tariff order likely on 28 Apr

MUMBAI: The Madras High Court is most likely to pronounce its order on 28 April on the petition filed by Star India and Vijay TV seeking a stay on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tariff order for the TV broadcasting sector.

The main parties in the case including Star India, Vijay, TRAI and other interveners have completed their arguments in the case. The tariff, which is coming into force on 3 May, has wide ramifications for the TV broadcasting sector.

Star and Vijay TV have challenged TRAI’s powers to regulate the price of TV channels. Besides the jurisdiction issue, the broadcasters have also argued that the tariff order is a violation of the Copyright Act, which deals with all aspects of exploitation and monetisation of content.

The matter is being heard by Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee. Earlier, two division benches had recused themselves from the case on different grounds.

Star India and Vijay Television had amended their petition in the Madras HC by adding a new prayer for setting aside TRAI’s tariff order and interconnection regulation.

The prayer was added after TRAI notified the tariff order and interconnection regulation on 3 March following a go-ahead from the Supreme Court. The SC had also stated that the Madras HC might continue to hear the issue of jurisdiction.

While retaining most of the recommendations, TRAI had removed the genre-wise price ceiling. The authority said that any channel priced above Rs 19 could not be part of the bouquet.

In December 2016, Star and Vijay had challenged TRAI’s jurisdiction to fix price of content. The Madras HC ordered TRAI to maintain status quo.

Irked by the order, TRAI filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the SC, which allowed the regulator to frame regulations with the condition that the same would have to be placed before the apex court before being notified.