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TDSAT impleads FHRAI in commercial subs tariff case

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has impleaded the Federations of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), the apex body of hotels and restaurants in India, in the case concerning commercial subscribers.

“For the reasons stated in the application, it is allowed and the applicant is directed to be impleaded as respondent No. 2 in these proceedings,” the tribunal said in its order.

Earlier, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Multi Screen Media, ZEEL and Viacom18 had challenged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tariff orders dated 8 September for commercial subscribers in the tribunal.

The broadcasters had sought a stay on the tariff orders for addressable and non-addressable systems. Their main contention is that the definition of the term ‘commercial subscriber’ in the tariff orders is erroneous.

According to TRAI’s tariff orders, the subscribers who charge their clients separately to use the TV services will be classified as ‘commercial subscribers’, while all others will be ‘ordinary subscribers’.

In the earlier hearing, the tribunal had issued a notice to TRAI and had directed it to file its reply within three weeks from the date of service of the notice. Rejoinder, if any, was to be filed within two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of the reply. The matter has been put up for directions on 2 November.

Prior to notifying the tariff orders for commercial subscribers, the authority had issued a consultation paper in July after its earlier tariff orders putting commercial subscribers on a par with ordinary subscribers were set aside by the TDSAT in March.

While setting aside the amended tariff order, the tribunal had asked the authority to undertake a fresh exercise on a completely clean slate and issue fresh tariff orders within six months. The tribunal’s order was challenged by the FHRAI in the Supreme Court where it is still pending.