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Delhi HC asks TRAI not to take coercive steps against broadcasters in commercial subs case

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) not to take any coercive steps against broadcasters for providing signals directly to commercial subscribers.

After hearing Star India counsel Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi and IBF counsel Amit Sibal, the court issued notices to both applicants, and directed TRAI and the Federation of Hotel & Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) to file their respective counter affidavits to the applications.

The matter has been listed for hearing on 21 July.

TRAI had issued letters to broadcasters directing them not to provide or take signals directly to commercial subscribers as per Clause 5.6 of ‘Policy Guidelines for Downlinking of Television Channels’ dated 5 December 2011 and provide a compliance report within 30 days.

The authority had issued a similar letter to hotel associations asking them to advise its members not to take signals directly from broadcasters and issue a compliance report within 30 days from the date of issue of the letter.

Star India and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had filed applications in the Delhi HC to restrain TRAI from taking any coercive measures against the broadcasters.

The TRAI letter was issued after the Delhi HC had reserved its order on an application filed by Star. In its order on 15 May, the bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed TRAI to determine fresh tariff in terms of the judgment of the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) dated 9 March 2015.

The bench directed TRAI not to consider itself bound by the regulations impugned in this petition in any manner whatsoever.

However, in the event the main petition fails, the different tariff, if any, provided in the said tariff order for commercial subscribers will also stand quashed, the bench said in its order.