The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has full jurisdiction on regulating ad time as per its powers conferred under the TRAI ACT, 1997.
This was the central point of TRAI counsel Rakesh Dwivedi’s argument as the hearing in the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) continued for the eighth day on the issue of implementation of 12-minute ad cap.
In front of the TDSAT bench comprising TDSAT chairman Justice Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh, Dwivedi argued for the second consecutive day that pursuant to the Section 11 of the TRAI Act, the regulator has been entrusted with the responsibility for laying down the standards of quality of service (QoS).
Section 11 of the TRAI Act contains the functions of the authority. Section 11(1) states that notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the functions of TRAI shall be to make recommendations, either suo motu or on a request from the licensor, on the matters contained therein which includes the need and timing for introduction of new service provider and terms and conditions of licence to a service provider.
Section 11 (1) (b) contains the mandatory functions of TRAI and states that the authority shall discharge the following functions, which, inter alia, include to ensure compliance of terms and conditions of licence and to lay down the standards of QoS to be provided by the service providers and to ensure the QoS provided by the service providers so as to protect interests of the consumers of Telecommunication Services. Section 11(1) (c) grants power to TRAI to levy fees and other charges at such rates and in respect of such services as may be determined by regulations and section 11 (1) (d) grants residual power to the authority to perform such other functions including such administrative and financial functions as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government or as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of TRAI Act.
Dwivedi mentioned that TRAI only aims to do what the government also is in accordance with. Even the existing rules notified by the Central Government in the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, allow 12 minutes of advertisements per hour. In March 2013, TRAI had notified the regulation “Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisements in Television Channels) (Amendment) Regulations, 2013 after studying the issue of duration of advertisements being carried in TV channels.
The hearing is expected to continue till Monday, 25 November.