The Kerala High Court on Friday refused to stay the implementation of the amended New Tariff Order (NTO) 2.0. A fresh case against this tariff amendment was recently filed by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) in the Kerala High Court bearing filing number ‘WP(C) 193/2023’ after NTO 2.0 was upheld by the Supreme Court of India and set to come into effect from February 1, 2023
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was represented by senior advocate Mr. Rakesh Dwivedi while Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi was representing the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) in the courtroom.
Mr. Dwivedi asked for the writ petition to be dismissed since TRAI has formed the tariff order after a very lengthy and detailed consultation with all stakeholders of the broadcast sector and the power of regulatory authority was upheld by the Supreme Court. Mr. Rohatgi too supported TRAI’s amendments and said that there’s no case for a stay on the amendments.
After hearing detailed arguments from the parties, the High Court said that it was not inclined to pass any interim order staying the implementation of amendments and posted the matter for the next hearing on February 8.
The multi-system operators (MSOs) provide cable TV service through local cable operators. They were supposed to report the distributors’ retail price of pay channels and the composition of their bouquets of pay and free-to-air channels by January 1 this year.
However, AIDCF challenged the amendments notified on November 22 before the Kerala High Court in a writ petition to strike down the amendments and put a stay on the implementation of the NTO 2.0.
The federation wants TRAI to examine and fix separate maximum retail prices for television channels based on their genre. It requested TRAI to set a maximum cap on the price of any channel regardless of their availability in bouquets.
According to AIDCF, TRAI has failed to consider and address the most important concern of the broadcasting industry which is the constant decline in MSOs and DTH operators’ subscriber base as they are ditching linear television viewing for OTT streaming services.