OTT platforms exempt from Govt permission, licensing: TDSAT
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7 months ago 02:02:37pm Television

OTT platforms exempt from Govt permission, licensing: TDSAT

New Delhi,07-October-2023, By IBW Team


The Telecoms Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on October 4 took a view that Over The Top (OTT) platforms cannot be regulated by the Telecommunication Authority of India (TRAI) Act, 1997.

The appellate tribunal has held that OTTs can only be regulated by the Information Technology Act, of 2000, and the rules under it.

The order was passed in a case filed by All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) against Star India Pvt Limited. AIDCF alleged that Star was violating the TRAI regulations by permitting free streaming of ICC World Cup matches on mobile devices through its OTT platform (Disney Hotstar). It alleged that this was discriminatory and in violation of TRAI Regulations as these matches are chargeable to a viewer who wishes to watch it on star sports channel, Money Control reported.

Citing this, AIDCF asked TDSAT to restrain star from offering World Cup matches for free on Hotstar or in the alternate provide star sports for free to cable operators.

Appearing for Star, senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Maninder Singh argued that OTT platforms including Hotstar do not have to obtain a license from the Central Government under TRAI Act as it is not a TV channel.

TDSAT, while denying the interim relief said ” Prima facie, OTT platform is not a TV channel, Hotstar does not require any permission or a license from the Central Government. OTT is not covered by TRAI.”

However, AIDCF’s petition against Star has been admitted by TDSAT and the tribunal is expected to commence final hearing on December 18. Star was represented by Karanjawala & Co. led by Ruby Singh Ahuja, senior partner at the firm.

TDSAT is the appellate authority for disputes pertaining to telecommunication, cable and broadcasting. The appellate tribunal is also an adjudicating authority for disputes under Information Technology Act, 2000 and Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA).

Earlier TDSAT had directed OTT platforms such as Hotstar, Sony Liv and Sun Nxt to provide information on their content to TRAI. However, in September 2022, the Delhi High Court stayed this order. The issue is currently pending at Delhi HC.

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