The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) submitted before the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that its New Tariff Order (NTO) putting price ceiling was to discourage anti-consumer practice by television broadcasters and distributors..A Division Bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla has been hearing pleas filed by Television Broadcasters challenging the Tariff Order.Last week, the Court refused to grant immediate relief to television broadcasters against NTO, which had directed the television broadcasters to unveil their revised prices by January 15 and had asked the TRAI to file an affidavit within a week's time..Senior Counsel Venkatesh Dhond for the Regulatory Authority submitted an affidavit in reply to the pleas of Television Broadcasters seeking stay on New Tariff Order. The affidavit is filed by one Surendra Bahadur Singh, Joint Advisor (Legal) of the Telecom Authority.The TRAI affidavit states,"TRAI expects that revised provision will engender to promote the interest of consumers and extend real choices...the impugned provisions are expected to discourage anti-consumer practice of pushing bouquets and ensure that DPO do not have monetary incentives to push bouquets, the broadcasters are permitted to offer penetration-based incentives only for a-la-carte channels.".The TRAI went on to submit,"Overall analysis of the present scenario leads to conclusion that the offering of bouquets by broadcasters, as is being done now, was generally depriving consumers of their basic right to choose channels and have been designed to better serve to the commercial interest of broadcasters.".As per the TRAI release issued on January 1, the pricing conditions include the following:· The sum of the a-la-carte rates of the pay channels (MRP) forming part of a bouquet shall in no case exceed one and half times the rate of the bouquet of which such pay channels are a part.· The a-la-carte rates of each pay channel (MRP), forming part of a bouquet, shall in no case exceed three times the average rate of a pay channel of the bouquet of which such pay channel is a part.Additionally, the Telecom Authority decided that only those channels which are having MRP of Rs.12 or less will be permitted to be part of the bouquet offered by broadcasters..Opposing these conditions, organisations such as Film and Television Producers Guild of India, Indian Broadcasting Foundation and broadcasters including Sony Pictures, Star India, Disney, Zee Entertainment, TV18, Asianet Star Communications and others had filed pleas sought a stay on the new Tariff order. Senior Advocates Janak Dwarkadas, Aspi Chinoy, Ravi Kadam, Darius Khambata and Navroz Seervai appeared for petitioner broadcasters..On Wednesday, Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi for one of the broadcasters Star India sought time to file rejoinder to go through nearly 1700 documents and submitted that their challenges are on constitutional grounds and that NTO is arbitrary and untenable in law..Moreover, the Regulatory Authority TRAI in its affidavit also submitted that it is not against offering bouquets, however, it cannot be at the cost of the freedom of consumers to choose channels in a manner which they may like..It was submitted,"The impugned regulations and impugned tariff order will provide better choice to the consumers and will make broadcasting services affordable for the consumers without affecting freedom of broadcasters/distributors to offer their channels in the form of bouquets or a-la-carte offering, offer discount to the consumers and to determine MRP at its discretion for a la carte and bouquet offering....this would result in unjust enrichment of broadcasters. There can be no mechanism for refund of the amounts that would be collected from the consumers by compelling the consumers by opting for bouquet vis-a-vis pay channels.".The regulator also argued that the earlier tariff structure was not consumer-friendly. "The provisions of the previous regulatory framework were being misused by broadcasters and Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) and the consumer offerings were distorted as the whole pricing structure was irrational and non-transparent for the consumers." .In view of this, TRAI further said that consumers had raised concerns over lack of freedom to opt channels due to unaffordable prices."The same channels would be offered along with several unwanted channels in a bouquet at extremely low prices. These consumers were indirectly forced to subscribe unwanted channels in the bouquet and the practice of taking channels a-la-carte was discouraged… By the new amendments, consumers become the real decision-makers of what they view and have complete freedom to choose and pay only for that.” .The petitions are plainly unmeritorious and no reliefs are liable to granted thereon and it is therefore submitted that petitions be dismissed with costs, argued TRAI.