6 Oct 2023 11:38 AM GMT
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has issued a significant interim ruling regarding over the top (OTT) platforms in India, whereby it has declared that OTT platforms like Hotstar fall outside the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).According to the ruling made on Wednesday, October 4, OTT platforms are governed by the...
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has issued a significant interim ruling regarding over the top (OTT) platforms in India, whereby it has declared that OTT platforms like Hotstar fall outside the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
According to the ruling made on Wednesday, October 4, OTT platforms are governed by the Information Technology Rules, 2021, enforced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
The TDSAT's decision came in response to a petition filed by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), which alleged discriminatory practices by Star India Pvt. Ltd. The contention revolved around Star India streaming ICC Cricket World Cup matches for free on mobile devices through its OTT platform Disney+Hotstar, while the same matches were only accessible on the Star Sports TV channel via paid subscriptions.
The AIDCF's request for interim relief, which sought to restrain Star India from offering free access to Star Sports on mobile devices, was denied by the TDSAT. The tribunal reasoned that, based on the Regulations of 2017, particularly Regulation 2(h), read in conjunction with 2(j), 2(r), 2(s), and 2(pp), along with Regulations 3 and 4, and considering the explanatory memorandum published by TRAI, there was no prima facie case in favor of the petitioner.
TDSAT further highlighted, “Prima facie, OTT platform is not, covered by TRAI, 2(r) of the Regulations, 2017 to be read with other definitions as stated hereinabove including 2(pp) etc.”
It was observed that an OTT platform is not classified as a TV channel, and the operator does not require any permission or license from the Central Government.
The tribunal also pointed out that there was no prima facie case under the Information Technology Act of 2000 and the rules established in 2021, along with the TRAI Act of 1997, in favor of the petitioner. It concluded that the balance of convenience did not favor the petitioner, and no irreparable loss would be incurred if the requested stay was not granted.
Additionally, TDSAT emphasized that AIDCF could maintain a list of consumers who subscribed to the Star Sports channel, as the same content was available via video streaming on the OTT platform, mitigating any potential loss to the petitioner.
TDSAT said that the information being maintained by the petitioner could be presented before the Tribunal through an affidavit during the final hearing of the Broadcasting Petition, to which the respondent could respond. Consequently, the petitioner's request for interim relief was denied.
Additionally, TDSAT granted permission to the petitioner to submit a rejoinder affidavit on or before the upcoming hearing scheduled for December 18, 2023.
The Respondent, i.e., Star India Private Limited was represented by Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Senior Advocate and Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate along with the team from M/s Karanjawala & Co. led by Ms. Ruby Singh Ahuja, Senior Partner and Ms. Kritika Sachdeva and Mr. Varun Khanna, Senior Associates and the team from M/s Saikrishna & Associates led by Mr. Sidharth Chopra and Ms. Sneha Jain, Partners and Ms. Swikriti Singhania, Associate Partner, Mr. Ranjit Singh Sidhu, Senior Associate and Ms. Srishti Kumar, Associate.
Case Title: All India Digital Cable Federation Versus Star India Pvt Ltd
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