HC restrains TRAI from action against TV channels over ads

New Delhi, Dec 17: The Delhi High Court Tuesday restrained the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from taking coercive action against news broadcasters in a case related to advertising cap on TV channels.

A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Manmohan also directed broadcasters to submit a weekly report to the TRAI on the duration of ads carried on their channels.

The court posted the matter for March 13, 2014.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), a group of major national news channels that has been protesting the 12-minute advertising limit per programming hour mandated by the TRAI, moved the high court against the decision.

The NBA has as its members 26 leading news and current affairs broadcasting companies, which run 53 news and current affairs channels.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has dismissed petitions filed by the NBA against the TRAI’s 12-minute per hour cap on ads, following an order by the Supreme Court which said the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear any challenge to the regulation framed by the sectoral regulator.

The Supreme Court judgement added that the aggrieved parties could challenge the validity of the TRAI’s regulations in the high court.

In August, the TRAI took several broadcasters to the trial court for ignoring the advertising limits notified by the regulatory authority in May 2012. This led the broadcasters to appeal to TDSAT to question TRAI’s jurisdiction on limiting the ads.

Several channel heads have in the past protested the limits set on advertising per programming hour, claiming it would force them out of business.

IANS