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SC asks Trai, cable operators to arrive at settlement

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The Supreme Court today asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the cable television providers to come to a settlement over the tariff by next Friday, when the court will take up the appeal of the telecom regulator against the ruling of the tribunal.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had rejected the regulator’s tariff order proposing to put a ceiling on cable services charges across the country.

After hearing various parties, including Set Discovery and Zee Turner Ltd, the bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan declined  to pass any order on the merits of the case, but asked the parties to bring to the court an agreed formula on the ceiling imposed in 2007, but which will be revised in October this year.

TDSAT while setting aside the Telecommunications (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eighth Amendment) Order 2007 had observed that the regulator had violated principles of transparency.  

According to Trai, the tariff order which had been in existence for more than a year should be continued as it had been successfully implemented.

The tariff order had provided protection to about 80 million households and it was done in a reasonable manner by stipulating ceilings on the monthly cable TV charges. If it was removed, around 30 million new households would be deprived of tariff protection and would be at the mercy of some 6,300 service providers, it was argued.

Trai on October 4, 2007, had issued a circular proposing a price band of Rs 132-260 for cable services based on a classification of cities and the number of pay channels provided by multiple system operators (MSOs). It submitted that the tariff order mandated broadcasters to offer their channels on a la carte basis.

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First Published: Fri, February 27 2009. 16:17 IST