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Delhi High Court is God-sent for broadcasters

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 17, 2013
The broadcasters still need to keep the regulator (TRAI) updated about the amount of airtime on each channel on a weekly basis.

After the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) dismissed the ad-cap petition following the Supreme Court's order, the broadcasters (including NBA) approached Delhi High Court on December 16. The court today asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to not take any action against the broadcasters regarding the ad-cap issue.

NBA

TRAI

According to the regulator, the channels were allowed to carry only 12 minutes of advertisements per clock hour, which currently ranges from 18-25 minutes an hour. It all started when TRAI announced the deadline for the implementation of ad-cap as on October, 2013.

On Friday, December 6, Supreme Court said that TDSAT is not authorised to intervene in the rules and regulations set down by TRAI. In view of this, the tribunal court had dismissed the cases filed by News Broadcasters Association (NBA), E24, four music broadcasters (9XM, Mastiii, B4U Music and MTunes) and Sun TV Network.

Following this, the complainants moved to Delhi High Court wherein the court will be hearing the case on March 13, 2014 and till then, the ad-cap cannot be forced on the broadcasters. Nonetheless, the broadcasters still need to keep the regulator (TRAI) updated about the amount of airtime on each channel on a weekly basis. The broadcasters have been sending a weekly report with the same data to the regulator and they need to continue with the practice.

The issue of regulating airtime on television is one of the most important discussion points since early last year. The regulation is said to be hurting the television broadcast business as it is expected to decrease the revenues by about Rs 1000-1200 crore.

However, this is a temporary relief for the broadcasters; there's still a long legal battle ahead for them.

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