The Delhi high court on Friday asked the Centre to clarify by next Tuesday the timeframe within which it would take a decision on Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendation that private FM Radio broadcasters be shifted from licence fee regime to revenue-sharing regime.
The direction came from Justice R S Bhat on 10 petitions filed by three private radio operators, including Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd, seeking a direction to the government to take a decision on TRAI recommendations dated August 11, 2004.
Two other petitioners are Music Broadcast Pvt Ltd and Entertainment India Network India Ltd.
Petitioners have also sought setting aside of November 17, 2004, order of Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal by which they were ordered to deposit one third of the licence fee for the year within two months. By now they have already paid two thirds of the total licence fee due from them under the old regime.
Their counsel Rajiv Nayar argued that the government's inaction on TRAI recommendations was causing huge financial loss to the petitioners. They would not be required to pay any amount whatsoever to the government if the recommendations of the expert body were accepted, Nayar submitted.
Government counsel Siddharth Mridul told the court that it might take months to decide the issue as at least five ministries were involved in the decision-making process.
Mridul sought to clarify that TRAI recommendations should not be clubbed with the petitioners' obligation under the licence fee regime as per contract entered into with the government. He alleged that the petitioners wanted to pre-empt an order on the issue from TDSAT, which is to hear the matter on February 2 next.