The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has told the Bombay High Court that it cannot defer the implementation of the new tariff order (NTO) 2.0 which has been challenged by the broadcasters.
The new bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudesai and Justice AA Sayed had asked TRAI if the NTO 2.0 implementation can be deferred since the implementation date is 1st March and it may not be possible to hear the case in such a short span of time and pass orders on interim relief sought.
The TRAI counsel today orally communicated that it will not defer the NTO 2.0 implementation. The TRAI had put a condition that it will consider deferring the implementation only if the broadcasters agree to file modified RIOs.
Once the TRAI made its stand clear, the bench said that it will hear the case. Today, the broadcasters argued before the court. The TRAI will present its arguments tomorrow.
Earlier, the bench had noted that the impugned 2020 Regulations and 2020 Tarif Order is to come into the force on 1st March. As observed in the order dated 30th January, even for interim relief detailed arguments would have to be canvased.
“Considering the above and given the complex issues involved, it may not be easy task for us hear all the Counsel for the Petitioners and the Respondents and pass orders on the interim relief sought, in the two days left with us i.e. 27th February 2020 and 28th February 2020, before the impugned 2020 Regulations and 2020 Tarif Order is to come into force,” the bench said in its order.
It further added, “In the above circumstances, without prejudice to rights and contentions of the parties, we deem it appropriate to request the learned Additional Solicitor General and the learned Senior Counsel for the Respondent – TRAI to take instructions whether the impugned 2020 Regulations and 2020 Tarif Order can be deferred. We note that even the operation of the earlier Regulations of 2017 was deferred by one month by the TRAI itself.”
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Star India, Sony, ZEEL, Viacom18, Disney India, The Film and Television Producers Guild of India, Asianet Star Communications, NGC Network India, and TV18 Broadcast have challenged the NTO 2.0.
The broadcasters had sought a stay on the amended tariff order and regulations contending that the TRAI sought to overhaul the entire method and manner in which broadcasters conduct their business. The broadcasters have challenged TRAI’s decision to reduce MRP cap to Rs 12 from Rs 19, imposition of twin conditions on bouquet pricing, and restricting incentives only to a la carte.