After the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Star-Disney India filed a motion on Wednesday challenging the Bombay High Court’s order in the New Tariff Order (NTO 2.0) case. Other broadcasters, including ZEEL and Viacom18, are expected to move the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The IBF and Star-Disney India have challenged the decision of the Bombay High Court to give more powers to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to regulate prices and impose restrictions on discounts on packages if that is necessary in the broader “public interest”. The HC did so by relying on the on-air Supreme Court judgment in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) case against the Bengal Cricket Association (CAB).
The broadcasters also argued that the Bombay High Court ripped off basic broadcasters’ rights by allowing TRAI to impose restrictions in the “public interest”. The broadcasters also challenged provisions of the amended tariff order (NTO 2.0), such as reducing the MRP to Rs 12, imposing twin conditions and imposing restrictions on the delivery of bouquets.
IBF was the first to move the SC on Tuesday with other broadcasters following suit. The Supreme Court is tentatively expected to deal with the issues next week.
The IBF along with the India Film and Television Producers Guild Star India, ZEEL, Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Networks India, among others, had challenged the constitutional validity of Article 11 of the TRAI 1997 Act, NTO 1.0 and NTO 2.0 in the Bombay High Court. .
The applicants (broadcasters) argued that all three should be declared constitutionally invalid. However, all three challenges failed with the exception of Part 2 of the Twin Conditions which was incorporated into NTO 2.0.
The bench of judges AA Sayed and Anuja Prabhudessai held that the second twin condition “is arbitrary being contrary to the mandate of Article 11 (4) of the TRAI law to ensure transparency and violates the fundamental rights of the applicants under article 14 of the Constitution “.
Summary of TRAI’s NTO 2.0 notified on January 1, 2020:
- Reduction of the ceiling price of the pay channel for inclusion in any package from Rs. 19 to Rs. 12
- Introduction of twin conditions to ensure that there is a reasonable relationship between the prices of pay-per-view channels and the package
- Consumers will get 200 SD TV channels (plus mandatory channels) in Basic Network Capacity Fee (NCF) of Rs. 130 / – per month
- For a larger number of channels, the maximum NCF has been capped at Rs. 160 per month
- DPOs cannot charge more than 40% of declared NCF per additional TV from the 2nd TV connection in a multi-TV household
- Flexibility for DPOs to declare different FCNs for different regions / zones within their service area
- Flexibility for DPOs to offer promotional programs such as discounts on NCFs and Distributor Retail Prices (DRP) on long term subscriptions
- Transport cost cap @ Rs. 4 Lakh per channel in standard definition (SD) per month for a DPO
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