CENTRE FOR TRANSFORMING INDIA AND ORS. Vs. TELECOM REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA
TELECOM DISPUTES SETTLEMENT AND APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
Centre For Transforming India And Ors.
TELECOM REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA
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Kuldip Singh, Member -
(1.) THESE Appeals are directed against the Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services (Second) Tariff (Eleventh Amendment) Order, 2014 issued by TRAI.
The Appellant in Appeal No. 1(C) of 2014 is a Consumer Welfare Organization. The other appellants are cable operators providing free to air and pay channels to the consumers/subscribers. The appellants are aggrieved by a 27.5% inflation linked hike in wholesale prices of pay channels. The hike is provided in two installments; 15% w.e.f. 01.04.2014 and 12.5% w.e.f. 01.01.2015.
(2.) BRIEFLY stated, the contention of the Appellants is that the impugned tariff Order is without jurisdiction, and arbitrary. They allege that the impugned Order has been passed without following the requirements of transparency as ordained in section 11(4) of the TRAI Act. It completely disregards the interest of consumers/subscribers at large and is heavily tilted towards broadcasters and distributors of channels. As per the Appellants, the impugned Order has resulted only in the continuation of price freeze stipulated by the Principal Tariff Order dated 1.10.2004. Vide order dated July 8, 2014, the Tribunal allowed the applications for impleading of co -appellants and other interveners. The intervener on behalf of Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) supports the impugned order. The other interveners who are Direct to Home (DTH) operators, Multi System Operators (MSOs), Association of Cable Operators/Cable Operators oppose the impugned order on the same grounds as the Appellants.
(3.) THE impugned order has been issued under Sub -Clause (ii), (iii) and (iv) of Clause (b) of sub -section (1) and sub -section (2) of Section 11 of the TRAI Act, 1997 (24 of 1997). Prior to 09.01.2004, Broadcasting & Cable services were not in the purview of TRAI. On 09.01.2004, the Government of India issued Notification No. 39 [S.O. 44 (E) and 45 (E)] whereby definition of 'Telecommunication Services' was expanded to include 'Broadcasting & Cable Services'. On 15.01.2004, a tariff order "Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services Tariff Order 2004 (1 of 2004)" was issued by TRAI freezing the charges payable by a subscriber to a cable operator, a cable operator to a MSO, and a MSO to a broadcaster as prevalent on 26.12.2003. Since then six tariff orders and a number of amendments to these have been issued.
On 01.10.2004, 'The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Second) Tariff Order 2004 (6 of 2004)', also known as the 'Principal Tariff Order', was issued repealing the Tariff Order dated 15.01.2004. While fixing the ceiling for the rates as prevailing on 26.12.2003, this Tariff Order also provided for proportionate increase and decrease of the price in case the channels were added or reduced after 26.12.2003. Fourteen amendments have since been made to this Tariff Order.;
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