Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

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SC: Trai can cap the cost of TV channels, bouquets

Dhananjay Mahapatra, SC rejects challenge to Trai’s power to cap cost of TV channels, bouquets, October 31, 2018: The Times of India

In an important judgment that will benefit millions of television viewers, the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s power to regulate and cap the subscription price of channels and bouquets offered by broadcasters.

Star India Private Ltd and others had challenged Trai’s decision to fix a uniform maximum retail price for each TV channel at Rs 19 and stipulated that a channel, which was individually priced at more than Rs 19, could not be included in a collection of channels (bouquet) and could only be offered on an individual/a la carte/ standalone basis. It had also stipulated that pay channels and free to air channels, as also HD and standard channels, could not be in the same bouquet.

Appearing for broadcasters, advocates A M Singhvi and P Chidambaram had argued that such regulation by Trai violated the copyright of broadcasters over the content on the channels. Rejecting the arguments, a bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha said Trai was protecting public interest of millions of viewers by capping the price of channels and broadcasters’ copyright was subservient to public interest.

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