While the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF)'s petition challenging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) NTO 3.0 is still being heard in the Kerala High Court, few more cable operators, some of them AIDCF members, have signed the new Reference Interconnection Offer (RIO).
According to industry sources, one of the major cable operators of Kerala signed the subscriber agreement on February 22. On February 21, TRAI’s counsel in the case Rakesh Dwivedi told the court that one of the prominent AIDCF members, Siti Cables, has also signed the interconnection agreement under the 2022 regulations. Thamizhaga Cable TV, Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV, and KAL Cables are among the other major MSOs that have complied with NTO 3.0, suggest media reports.
On the third day of hearing on February 22, Rakesh Dwivedi concluded his arguments. During his submission, he said, “The AIDCF had itself said that the 2020 framework is unworkable, but now they are asking before this court for it to be restored.”
He further said that TRAI has compelled broadcasters to bring down the price of driver and popular channels to below Rs 19. “Therefore, there is no perversity at all and nothing is manifestly arbitrary. The only case of petitioners was that it (amendment) was manifestly arbitrary.”
He added, “They are asking that the pricing of all channels be capped, taking away the freedom of broadcasters. But this is a completely new demand. I am trying to show that their demands are outside of the 2020 framework.”
“It is my submission that there is no occasion for granting any interim stay. The consequence of granting stay would be that the 2020 regulation will become operative, which all stakeholders had agreed is not workable,” said Dwivedi.
After hearing Dwivedi’s submission, the court said since the matter has been argued in detail, it can be disposed finally. “I will ask the petitioners also about this,” said the judge.
Towards the end, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on the behalf of Star, requested the court if he can make his submission the next day (February 23).