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Star, Vijay TV complete arguments in Madras HC on tariff matter

MUMBAI: Star India and Vijay TV on Friday concluded their arguments in the Madras High Court on the issue of tariff order and interconnection regulation issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Appearing for Star and Vijay, senior counsel P Chidambaram argued that TRAI’s action of fixing tariff for TV content was in violation of the Copyright Act. He also submitted that TRAI did not have the jurisdiction to fix tariff since the exploitation of IPR was part of the Copyright Act. He also stated that a subordinate legislation, i.e. the TRAI Act, could not override the principal legislation, i.e. the Copyright Act.

With the broadcaster completing its arguments, it is now TRAI’s turn and other impleaders like the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) to make their submissions.

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

The broadcaster had contended that TRAI did not have the jurisdiction to regulate TV channel pricing. The two parties had earlier stated that TRAI had overstepped its jurisdiction and violated the Copyright Act, which deals with all aspects of exploitation and monetisation of content.

TRAI had notified the tariff order and interconnection regulation on 3 March after the Supreme Court had given it the go-ahead. The SC had earlier stated that the Madras HC could continue to hear the issue of jurisdiction.

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

Earlier, the HC had disallowed the IBF and the AIDCF from impleading in the matter.

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. However, the same would have to be placed before the apex court before being notified.

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