25 Feb 2023 3:11 AM GMT
The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that an interim arrangement has been worked out with the broadcasters.While the matter was being heard, the parties without prejudice to their rights and contentions in the main matter, have arrived at an understanding for the interim, Senior Advocate Jayant Mehta appearing for AIDCF informed the court....
The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that an interim arrangement has been worked out with the broadcasters.
While the matter was being heard, the parties without prejudice to their rights and contentions in the main matter, have arrived at an understanding for the interim, Senior Advocate Jayant Mehta appearing for AIDCF informed the court.
“As far as the interim is considered, there is an arrangement by the parties which has been put into place effective yesterday night,” Mehta said.
A single bench of Justice Shaji P Chaly has been hearing the matter in detail since Monday on the request made by AIDCF for an urgent hearing of an interim application in the case filed challenging TRAI's new Tariff Order, under which broadcasters have increased channel prices for cable TV operators.
AIDCF had earlier sought an urgent hearing following disconnection notices issued by the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) on failure to sign new interconnection agreements with revised prices. It had been averred that the disconnection notices gave them only two days' time and that TRAI has not taken any step to address this "arm-twisting" tactic.
The petitioners had sought for status quo with regard to provision of signals to the consumers, until the main petition challenging the price hike is heard.
The court while posting the matter for final hearing on Friday 3rd March 2023 at 3:30 PM said:
“Initially it was thought that the arguments addressed by the respective parties was only for the purpose of considering the question of interim relief as sought for by the petitioners. However, at a later point of time learned senior counsel appearing for the respondent submitted that since the entire gamut of the matter was argued, the writ petition itself can be disposed of finally.”
Mehta, representing the AIDCF, said that since the IBDF has filed a detailed counter affidavit, they require time to file a rejoinder to the same. The court accordingly granted time to the petitioner and directed them to serve advance copies of the rejoinder to all the respondents.
Senior Advocate Amit Sibal appearing for Zee Enterprises Private Limited, a broadcaster and a member of the IBDF, submitted that “virtually all distribution platform operators have either signed agreements or are in the process of the signing agreements so 100% there is no basis for any contention that any end user or consumer is deprived of signals”. He also pointed out that “nothing has happened over the last weekend as was repeatedly portrayed by the petitioners.”
Sibal also contended that the regulations and tariff orders as amended came into force on February 1, 2023, after being announced in November 2022. Everyone became obligated to implement them early on, and not the previous weekend, he submitted.
He also argued that the petitioner had raised similar challenges in several forums, including four high courts and no interim orders were granted. It was also pointed out on behalf of Zee that before the matter was mentioned on February 17, almost all distribution platform operators had complied with the new tariff order and it was only a small minority that had not complied with it.
“It would have been a very odd situation for signals to be provided contrary to the regulations ... in violation of law, which was not stayed by High Courts and we were mandated to implement,” he said. He also averred that it would’ve created two regimes, one for all distribution platforms who were compliant and a different regime for the minority that were not compliant.
He also submitted that on merits he is adopting the submissions of IBDF as well as its other members including Star and Sony, that had earlier made its submissions
Case Title: All India Digital Cable Federation & Anr. v. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India & Anr