The Kerala High Court yesterday dismissed a petition filed by MSO body AIDCF against regulator TRAI’s amended tariff guidelines that were announced in November 2022.
“After going through the generations on the consultation papers and the regulations and tariff order, I am of the considered opinion that the petitioners have failed to establish any arbitrariness or illegality or any other legal infirmities on the part of the authority in exercising the powers conferred under the Act, 1997,” a single-judge bench of Shaji P Chaly observed.
In February, All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) had moved the court, along with a Kerala cable ops body KCCL, against TRAI’s tariff orders, seeking interim relief, which, however, was not granted by the court.
The AIDCF moved the Kerala court as three major broadcasters (Sony, Zee and Disney Star) cut off their signals to some AIDCF member-MSOs.
The tiff had resulted in a few days of blackout of some popular entertainment and other TV channels, which started February 18.
The broadcasters had switched off their signals to some MSOs, who were AIDCF members, before an out-of-court truce was hammered out on February 23.
Three major broadcasters had alleged non-compliance of regulator TRAI-mandated guidelines on tariff interconnect agreements.
The petitioners had claimed that under the 2020 regime, the price of the “driver” channel in a bouquet was capped at Rs 12, but under the latest tariff order it was increased to Rs 19.
However, even the 2020 regime was not properly implemented till now by TRAI, it had alleged. The regulator had refuted the allegation in court, saying that the 2020 regulations and tariff order regarding TV channel pricing was not implemented as all stakeholders, including AIDCF, were of the view that it requires a re-look, a PTI report had stated earlier.
The telecom and broadcast regulator also claimed that AIDCF had consented to the price cap of Rs 19 per channel.