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SC lists Star’s petition against TRAI tariff order and regulation for 8 May

MUMBAI: Star India’s special leave petition (civil) seeking a stay on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tariff order and interconnection regulation has been listed for hearing on 8 May.

The matter will be heard by the bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.

Star will be represented by Karanjawala & Co while the main respondent, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), will be represented by Sanjay Kapur.

The broadcaster had moved the apex court after the Madras High Court refused to stay the implementation of TRAI tariff order and regulation. The HC hearing on the main petition challenging TRAI’s power to come out with tariff for TV channels is scheduled for 12 June.

The HC had also directed broadcasters to publish their reference interconnection offers (RIO) on 2 May, as per the regulation.

While Star has sought 10 days from TRAI to publish RIO, other broadcasters like TV18, Viacom18, ZEEL, Sony Pictures Networks India and Disney India have published their RIO.

Multi-system operators (MSOs) affiliated to the All India Digital Cable Federation (ADICF) have also published their carriage RIO and channel capacity.

Star is vigorously pursuing the matter in the courts since it feels that the new regime will be irreversible once it comes into force. It expects to get a favourable verdict in the Madras High Court, where it has challenged TRAI’s writ to frame tariff for TV channels.

The broadcaster feels that the new regime will unsettle the business models of broadcasters.

The contracts under the new regime will come into force from 1 September.

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 could continue to hear the issue of jurisdiction.

While retaining most of the recommendations, TRAI had removed 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 an SLP in the Supreme Court, which allowed the regulator to frame regulations with the condition that the same be placed before the apex court before being notified.