The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been locked in a legal battle with the DTH service providers, Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct and broadcaster Discovery Communications India since months now. In a new development in this feud, the Delhi High Court has adjourned the date for the next hearing to May 15 on Thursday. Going by the words of a source, the bench could not function at the Delhi HC because the chief justice was on leave. The last hearing in the legal row between TRAI and DTH providers was on May 2, where Arjun Natarajan argued for an hour with Rakesh Dwivedi taking over later. Dwivedi will take 4 more sessions to argue, it’s been said.
Discovery India Finishes Presenting Arguments
Prior to that, the last two hearings on the petitions filed by the DTH operators were debated on April 11 and April 25 and these hearings were adjourned without any significant development in the case. Discovery India had concluded putting forth its arguments in the beginning of April. It is worth noting that the matter is being heard by Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, and Justice V Kameswar Rao.
The deadline for the implementation of the new TRAI tariff regime is already behind us as the new regulatory framework finally went effective on March 31. Now TRAI has been saying that almost all subscribers have migrated to the new tariff regime and they have seen reduction in TV bills, however, subscribers have claimed otherwise. In the past few weeks, TRAI has also sent notices to various industry players including cable TV service providers, DTH operators and Multi System Operators (MSOs) for not complying with the new tariff regime. The regulator had directed these companies to prove compliance then.
TRAI Chairman Asked to File Affidavit
It was back in February when TRAI had extended the deadline for the implementation of the new TRAI tariff regime to March 31. During the same time, it had also given the directive for the best fit plans (BFPs). Trai in its directive to the companies had said that the subscribers who did not make channel choices and did not migrate to the new regime would be moved to best fit plans to avoid disruption in their connection. These packs would be curated as per usage pattern, language and channel popularity, the sector regulator had said in a statement.
On February 13, the TRAI was questioned by the bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon about why it had pushed the deadline of the implementation of the new framework without informing the court. TRAI chairman was also asked to file an affidavit explaining the reason about the same. However, it was back in 2017 when Discovery Communications India and Bharti Telemedia had filed petition against TRAI challenging the new tariff order and the interconnect regulations. In a similar move, Star India had questioned the regulatory jurisdiction of the sector regulator.