IBF moves Delhi HC against TRAI regulation seeking details of marketing, placement deals

MUMBAI: The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has moved Delhi High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) register of interconnection agreements regulation.

On IBF’s plea, a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar has issued notice to the TRAI seeking its stand. The matter has been adjourned to 14th February 2020.

As per the regulation dated 4th September, the broadcasters will have to report all the details of interconnection agreements with distribution platform operators (DPOs) to the authority. This includes the details of all other individual agreements like marketing, placement, agreements on advertisement slots, and extended credit facility.

The regulation comes into force from 2nd January 2020.

The IBF has challenged the Clauses 3 (3) (ii), 3 (3) (iii) and 3 (3) (iv) of the interconnection regulation contending that the same is beyond the power, authority and jurisdiction of TRAI.

It further argued that the TRAI is seeking to expand the meaning of the expression “Interconnection” and “Interconnection Agreements’ by seeking disclosure of agreements for placement, marketing and/or other commercial agreements that have been entered into between broadcasters and DPOs.

The IBF noted that all commercial agreements between a broadcaster and a distributor of a television channel which does not relate to the technical and commercial arrangement under which they connect their equipment and network to provide broadcasting services to subscribers would fall outside the scope of the term ‘Interconnection Agreements’.

Furthermore, it added that all the commercial freedoms/rights available to any party under the provisions of the Contract Act are also squarely available and applicable in the case of any commercial entity engaged in providing broadcasting services.

“The TRAI has neither been permitted nor empowered, in any manner whatsoever by the provisions and scheme of the TRAI Act, 1997 to interfere with/impinge upon all other commercial rights and freedom which every broadcaster would possess in terms of the provisions and scheme of the Contract Act,” the IBF contended in its petition.

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