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SC order on broadcasting sector tariffs a big win for consumers: Trai Chief

twitter-logoPTI | October 30, 2018 | Updated 22:12 IST

New Delhi, Oct 30 (PTI) The Supreme Court judgement upholding the regulator's tariff order related to fixation of charges for free and pay channels is a "big win" for consumers, Trai Chairman RS Sharma said Tuesday. The order will provide consumers choice of channels, transparency and better service quality, he added. "It is a historical judgement in the sense that this is a big win for consumers of television services in our country because it provides them choice and transparency. They will be able to get whatever channels they want to subscribe to, and will not be unnecessarily pushed some other channels," Sharma told PTI. A two-member bench comprising Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha on Tuesday dismissed the plea challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) March, 2017 regulations and tariff order relating to fixation of charges for free and pay channels. The apex court held that the Regulation and the Tariff Order have been made keeping the interests of the stakeholders and the consumers in mind. Trai's framework aims to ensure better quality of services and the regulator also expects the tariffs to come down over a period of time, Sharma said. "It is a huge, new framework, this is a comprehensive framework on tariff, quality of service and interconnection... We also expect this framework to reduce the litigations among the stakeholders because it will ensure hassle-free smooth relationship among various stakeholders," Sharma added. Most importantly, he said, it would provide choice of channels to customers and transparency. "It provides a huge transparency in the sense that every channel will now have to put up what is its MRP (Maximum Retail Price) and those channels which are free to air by the broadcaster will have to be made available free to air, to the consumer," Sharma said. The country's leading media house Zee Entertainment has welcomed the apex court order and termed it as "strong and positive" step. "While the overall media and entertainment landscape has been evolving at a rapid pace, it is for the first time in 26 years that such a strong and positive step has been taken to eradicate the lack of transparency in the entire value chain of the broadcast and cable industry," ZEE and Essel Group Chairman, Subhash Chandra said. He further added: "It will certainly help the LCOs (local cable operators), MSOs (multiple system operators) and the broadcasters". All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) said that it would bring transparency and parity in the sector. "This is the watershed moment we have all been waiting for. We feel that the new framework will bring in much needed transparency, parity, promote exercising of choice for the consumer and ensure orderly growth of the sector," said AIDCF President Rajan Gupta. Comments from Star India (one of the petitioners) and another broadcaster Sony Picture Network could not be ascertained by time of filing story. PTI KRH SR MBI MBI BAL BAL

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