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TRAI likely to challenge TDSAT order on commercial subscribers in SC

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has indicated that it would challenge the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal’s (TDSAT) order that set aside the 2014 tariff order on commercial subscribers in the Supreme Court.

The submission was made by the TRAI before the apex court when the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India’s (FHRAI) appeal against the tribunal’s order came up for hearing on 24 April.

The appeal that was filed on 4 April has been admitted by the apex court. The matter has now been listed on 11 May and the respondents have been asked to file replies.

The respondents in the matter are the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Multi Screen Media (MSM), Viacom18, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

On 23 April, the TDSAT had extended the deadline till 8 May for TRAI to come out with an interim arrangement based on which broadcasters and commercial subscribers have to conduct business as per the order passed on 9 March.

TRAI had filed an application before the tribunal seeking a month’s time to come out with an interim arrangement as the earlier one-month deadline had expired on 8 April. The new one-month extension is effective from 9 April.

In its order on 9 March, the tribunal had set aside the amendments made by the TRAI to tariff order for commercial subscribers.

The tribunal had set aside the amendments to the tariff order that prohibited broadcasters from providing its channels directly to a subscriber and treated commercial subscribers on a par with ordinary subscribers.

It had also said that the reasons assigned by TRAI for putting the entire body of commercial subscribers on the same footing as ordinary subscribers are completely unacceptable.