TDSAT asks Trai not to force for ESPN’s disconnection

TDSAT asks Trai not to force for ESPN’s disconnection

New Delhi: Broadcast tribunal TDSAT on Friday directed sectoral regulator Trai not to take any action against sports broadcaster ESPN in a case related to alleged violation of guidelines on pricing plan for Direct-to-Home (DTH) operators.

During the proceedings, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) bench directed the Trai not to take any further step over suspension of ESPN’s downlinking licence as it was going for a final hearing of the matter.

“Matter is now listed for final hearing on 13 January, 2009... Meanwhile, no steps would be taken by respondent (Trai) for cancellation of licence," the TDSAT bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar said.

ESPN has approached TDSAT challenging the TRAI’s direction saying that the sectoral regulator should have come out with a tariff order rather than issuing directions to modify its reference interconnect offers (RIOs).

Counsels appearing for ESPN argue that the sports broadcaster would have to suffer loss by giving their channels to DTH operators at 50% of cable rates as per Trai’s direction as their viewership was less.

“They should not go for cancellation of my licence," senior advocate N K Kaul appearing for ESPN said.

Earlier, the Trai recommended Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to suspend the sport broadcaster’s downlinking licence for its three channels — ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket — alleging the company had violated pricing regulations by asking DTH operators to pay more than what it charged from non-CAS cable operators.