The Kerala High Court has listed for January 6 a case against broadcast regulator TRAI’s amended 2022 tariff regulations, which was filed by two industry organisations of MSOs and LCOs.
However, at this point of time it is not clear when a hearing on the petition will start.
The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) and Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd (KCCL) petitioned the court on January 3 to stay the implementation of the tariff order, popularly known as NTO 2.0 or also NTO 3.0, as an interim measure before a more detailed order could be passed.
The petitioners have termed the amendments in the tariff regulations, which were changed after consultations late 2022, as ‘arbitrary’ and ‘discriminatory’.
“It is submitted that the Impugned Regulations are arbitrary and contravene the provisions and objectives of TRAI Act and the constitutional right under Article 14 and rg(rXg) of the Constitution of India.
“In addition, the said Impugned Regulations also take away from consumer choice and autonomy, which are the corner-stone of the new regulatory framework for cable television. Further, the procedure for making the Impugned Regulations also violates the provisions of Section 11 (4) of the TRAI Act that require transparency and consultation in the process of framing regulations thereunder,” the petition stated.
The other respondent in the case is the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the nodal government agency for media-sector related policy-making.
“The 2022 Tariff Order Amendment is completely arbitrary and discriminatory in as much as respondent No. 1 (TRAI) has permitted 45 percent discount on bouquet of channels formed by broadcasters, whilst in case of MSOs, like the petitioners, the discount on the MSO formed bouquet is capped at 15 percent by way of proviso to Regulation 4(4) of the Tariff Order which has not been amended,” the petition contended.
The petition goes on to exhort the court to strike down the tariff rules and prayed that “MRP should be fixed genre wise”, while there should be further price capping of “any television channel at Rs. 12 in order to protect the cable television sector”.