Broadcast tribunal TDSAT has pulled up channel distributing firms – Star Den,MSM Discovery and Zee Turner – for letting their signals be distributed illegally by a Punjab-based leading MSO in Himachal Pradesh without getting necessary approvals.
It has said the three “shall also pay a sum of Rs 25,000 each to the Petitioner” MSOs of Himachal,which had brought the case before it.
Besides,TDSAT has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to probe,if possible,the three firms’ role apprehending that without their “connivance” the MSO,Fastway,could not have become a dominant player with 65 per cent market share in Himachal.
“We are sending a copy of this order to the Regulator (Trai) only for the purpose of considering as to whether it is possible for them to enquire as to how the Respondent No.4 (Fastway),which is said to be dominating the field of broadcasting and cable services in the State of Punjab,had been permitted with the connivance of the broadcasters to sneak in the State of Himachal Pradesh to start its services without entering into any proper subscription agreement with the Broadcaster and by the process acquired 65 per cent of the market,” said the tribunal.
It also asked to send copies of its findings to the Post Master of Shimla and Solan which are statutorily authorised to issue license to cable operator and District Magistrate of Shimla and Solan “for appropriate action on their part” against Fastway Transmissions.
“To us,it appears that (Fastway) had been able to acquire the market by reason of adopting a wrongful method for the purpose of frustrating any competition amongst the service providers…,” the tribunal observed.
Star Den is a 50:50 JV between broadcasting houses Star India and DEN Networks for distribution of their TV channels.
Zee-Turner is a 76:24 JV between Zee Entertainment and Turner India Pvt Ltd,while MSM Discovery is a 74:26 JV between Multi Screen Media (Sony group) and Discovery Communications for distributing their channels.
The TDSAT direction came over the complaints filed by three MSOs – Solan Sat TV,Bridge View Broadband Network and Solan Communication. They have sought that the broadcasting houses stay the unauthorised re-transmission of their signals in the state.
They had also requested the tribunal to direct Fastway not to illegally encroach upon their authorised areas. As evidence they submitted CDs and its brochure.
The three broadcasters in their written replies had submitted before the tribunal that Fastway has not committed any act of piracy.
Moreover,they submitted that the complainant MSOs indirectly had sought for down-gradation in the amount of subscription fee payable to them,which could not be done directly.
Zee Turner had even termed them as defaulters.
TDSAT said it will not go into these issues right now.
However,its said,”Sufficient materials have been brought on record to show that Fastway,having regard to the fact that it has been paying a huge amount of subscription fee to them,and/or for other reasons which it had not disclosed,the Respondent No 1 and 2 (Star Den & MSM Discovery) must be held to have acted wrongfully”.
Besides,the three companies,TDSAT also imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on Fastway.