New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the multi-system operators and local cable operators to charge fee as per the directions of broadcast regulator Trai, which has proposed Rs132-260 for cable services in non-CAS areas.
A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan in an interim order said the tariff, which was in existence at the time when the sectoral tribunal rejected Trai’s order putting a ceiling on cable service charges, will continue for next two weeks.
“Status quo as on the date of the TDSAT order to continue,” it said, while adjourning the matter for two weeks.
Broadcast regulator Trai on 4 October 2007, had issued a circular directing a price band of Rs132-260 for cable services based on a classification of cities and the number of pay channels provided by multi-system operators (MSOs).
Earlier, the court had asked the broadcasters to work out some interim arrangement (till Trai completes its exercise of reframing the new tariff order within 4-6 months) on tariff to be charged across the country.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had set aside the Telecommunications (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eighth Amendment) Order 2007 and held that the regulator had violated principles of transparency.
Trai had challenged the TDSAT judgement.
Stating that the tribunal’s verdict will have tremendous impact on consumers and the broadcasting and the Cable TV services industry, Trai said 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 in a very transparent and reasonable manner by stipulating ceilings on the monthly cable TV charges, senior counsel Harish Salve stated.
Around 30 million new households would be deprived of tariff protection and would be at the mercy of service providers and “there is a strong likelihood of arbitrary hikes”, Trai stated.
Trai in its appeal said the tariff order mandated broadcasters to offer their channels on a-la-carte basis and declare their bouquet rates as well as their a-la-carte rates for their channels in non-CAS areas on 1 December 2007.