The Supreme Court has issued a notice in order to seek a reply from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on ESPN’s plea seeking vacation of its earlier order that raised the channel distribution rates paid by cable operators from 35% to 42%.
ESPN is seeking vacation of the apex court’s April 18 order that stayed the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) order and raised the distribution rates to 42%.
ESPN said it was unfair to treat the distribution of add-on pack channels on a par with those distributed through a DTH platform.
TDSAT had set aside the Trai notification of July 21 last year that capped the wholesale price of channels after broadcasters alleged the regulator had acted in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner.
The sports broadcaster said that the figure of 42% and/or the original figure of 35% cannot be made applicable when its channels are being distributed as add-on pack since this will amount to patent discrimination against its channels, resulting in substantial loss of revenue.
As a result of its channels being offered as an add-on pack by the TV channel distributors using addressable systems, ESPN’s subscription revenue would suffer a “drastic negative and prejudicial impact” on its reach, advertising rates and revenue, the application stated.