Wednesday, October 31, 2018

SC rejects challenge to Trai capping cost of TV channels, bouquets

In an important judgment that will benefit millions of television viewers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s power to regulate and cap the subscription price of channels and bouquets offered by broadcasters.

Star India Private Ltd and others had challenged Trai’s decision to fix a uniform maximum retail price for each TV channel at Rs 19 and stipulated that a channel, which was individually priced at more than Rs 19, could not be included in a collection of channels (bouquet) and could only be offered on an individual/a la carte/standalone basis. It had also stipulated that pay channels and free to air channels, as also HD and standard channels, could not be in the same bouquet.
Appearing for broadcasters, senior advocates A M Singhvi and P Chidambaram had argued that such regulation by Trai violated the copyright of broadcasters over the content on the channels. Rejecting the arguments, a bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha, in a 123-page judgment, said Trai was protecting public interest of millions of viewers by capping the price of channels and broadcasters’ copyright was subservient to the public interest.
Justice Nariman said, “We do not find on a reading of the impugned regulation as well as the tariff order made that Trai has transgressed into copyright land.”

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