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SC allows TRAI to increase non-addressable tariff

MUMBAI: The stage is set for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to increase tariff for non-addressable system as the Supreme Court has accepted the sector regulator’s application for allowing it to revise tariff to make adjustments to inflation.

The apex court has posted the matter for hearing on 9 July for final consideration.

TRAI had on 20 February filed an application with the SC seeking permission to revise tariff for non-addressable, as it had not been able to undertake the exercise since 2009 as the matter was sub judice.

In its application, TRAI said that the present tariff for non-addressable system was based on the figures of 2009 and therefore there was a need for across-the-board adjustments to compensate for increased costs owing to inflation.

None of the parties involved in the case raised objections to the application except for one multi-system operator (MSO) which contended that the revision would affect other pending appeals.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which was one of the impleaders in the case, requested the bench to decide on their application. The apex court, however, said that the application will be decided in the next hearing.

According to a media lawyer, the increase in non-addressable tariff will have a bearing on addressable system tariff as the SC in the DTH tariff order case had set aside a TDSAT order and raised the addressable system tariff to 42 per cent of non-addressable system.

The TRAI had moved the SC against Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal’s (TDSAT) 15 January 2009 order which had set aside the regulator’s 2007 tariff order.

The TRAI’s tariff order had prescribed a ceiling on charges payable by subscribers to cable operators, cable operators to MSOs and MSOs to broadcasters.

TRAI’s prescribed cap on charges payable by subscribers ranged from Rs 139 to Rs 260 based on the number of pay channels and the classification of cities.

However, the apex court refused to set aside the TDSAT order and had asked TRAI to maintain status quo. Subsequently, the apex court admitted TRAI’s appeal, resulting in the 2007 tariff order coming into effect.

Thereupon, the authority carried out tariff fixation and proposed a tariff structure in 2010. Its application to implement the tariff structure is still pending with the court.

Also read:

SC stays Tdsat order on tariff order, hikes rates to 42%
TDSAT sets aside TRAI’s 35% tariff order for addressable system
Trai bats for price cap of Rs. 250 in non-CAS areas