Star Sports has initiated criminal action against Gujarat Telelinks Private Ltd (GTPL) Hathway for rampant piracy during the just concluded India-West Indies Test series. The sports channel has filed eight FIRs for illegal transmission,five of which have been lodged in Gujarat.
Star Sports-appointed anti-piracy agencies conducted these raids across the four states and accordingly filed the FIRs. Among
the FIRs filed in Gujarat,four of them have been filed in Ahmedabad Kalupur,Madhavpura,Navrangpura,Chandkheda police stations and one
in Surat (Varaccha).
Despite repeated reminders and requests for payment of our outstanding dues,GTPL did not pay heed. We were constrained to issue a disconnection notice to GTPL as well as a public notice in accordance with the TRAI Regulations on October 19. Even thereafter,GTPL refused to budge. We were forced to switch off their signals. After we did that,instead of seeking our signals lawfully,by resolving all outstanding issues with us,GTPL indulged in blatant piracy of our signals forcing us to initiate criminal action against them, said Vijay Rajput,COO,STAR Sports India in a statement issued here on Tuesday.
One FIR each have been registered in Maharashtra,Bihar and Jharkhand. Piracy is just not acceptable. It is a serious offence as per the IPR act. We will pursue it strongly to bring the guilty to book, he added. Star Sports officials,however,did not clarify whether these raids were conducted in residential or commercial premises.
When contacted on the issue,a source at GTPL Hathway claimed that they
are being pressurised to sign up for non-digital agreement from the channel
because of which they are being arm-twisted by the sports channel.
Even if there was piracy,the law requires them to inform us on the specific areas where they have found it,so that we can fingerprint our system,detect the disrepancy and switch it off, stated a senior official who did not wish to be named.
The channel even issued a half page advertisement in a national daily saying that their signals in Gujarat will be switched off and that subscribers in Gujarat will be switched off. In the advertisement,they had even asked the subscribers to avail signals from alternate sources by calling operators or getting the signals through other MSOs.
The channel in question is doing this in a bid to create pressure on us to sign up for analog signals in non-digital areas which is against the requirements of the future. We are currently under a digitalisation phase and are discontinuing analog signals. We had a verbal payment schedule with the channel of which they backed out and blacked us out just before Sachin Tendulkars last test match four days back. They are claiming that they have not recieved subscriber reports from us which is baseless,as we pay them a fixed amount which is irrespective of the number of subscribers we have, the official added.