Interim relief for broadcasters in ad cap ruling

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SummaryThe Delhi High Court on Tuesday restrained Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday restrained Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India (Trai) from taking any coercive action against broadcasters over a regulation that limits advertisements on news and general entertainment channels to 12 minutes per hour.

The court, responding to the appeal filed by the News Broadcaster's Association (NBA) and a few music channels, also directed the parties aggrieved by the regulation to file weekly logs of advertisements durations before Trai.

NBA is a body of 26 broadcasters that operates 50 news channels in India.

In May last year, Trai had notified regulations directing broadcasters to restrict commercial advertisement durations on their channels to 10 minutes per hour, along with 2 minutes dedicated for promotion of their programming content, taking the ad-cap to 12-minutes per hour.

The NBA and other music channels filed an appeal before the court, as the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on December 11 had dismissed the suits filed by them, after considering a recent Supreme Court judgment that prescribes that the telecom tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to entertain challenges to the regulations drafted by Trai.

“The tribunal was engaged in preparing the judgment and it was able to write the judgment to a large extent but in the meanwhile, the decision of the Supreme Court has come on December 6...In this judgment, the Supreme Court has definitively held that in exercise of the power vested in it under section 14 (b) of the Trai Act, 1997, TDSAT does not have jurisdiction to entertain challenge to the regulations framed by the authority under section 36 of the Act,” the tribunal said.

The court has posted the matter for further hearing on March 13.

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