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TRAI comes up with interim arrangement for commercial subscribers

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with an interim arrangement for commercial subscribers as per an order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

The interim arrangement will continue till a new tariff order is issued, subject to the outcome of the civil appeal filed by TRAI before the Supreme Court challenging the TDSAT’s order of 9 March 2015 setting aside the 18 July 2014 tariff order on commercial subscribers.

‘The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff Order 2004’ (6 of 2004) dated 01.10.2004 had put a ceiling on the rate of pay channels. However, it did not differentiate between a commercial and an ordinary subscriber.

As per the ‘Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Third) (CAS Areas) Tariff Order 2006’ (6 of 2006), the ceiling on maximum retail prices for pay channels in conditional access system (CAS) areas will not apply to commercial subscribers.

As an ad interim measure, the ‘Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff Order 2004’ (6 of 2004) dated 01.10.2004, the ‘Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Third) (CAS Areas) Tariff Order 2006’ (6 of 2006) dated 31.08.2006, and the ‘Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Fourth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order 2010’ (1 of 2010) dated 21.07.2010 will apply.

As per a tariff order issued by TRAI, broadcasters cannot provide channels directly to a commercial subscriber. The regulator treated commercial subscribers on a par with ordinary subscribers.

The tariff order was issued in the wake of the apex court directing the authority to look into the matter de novo and to re-determine the tariff within three months after hearing the contentions of all the stakeholders.

The broadcasters had appealed against the tariff order in the TDSAT. In the order, the tribunal also observed that TRAI should consider whether to issue an interim tariff order dealing with the matter until it takes a final call on the subject.

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