MUMBAI: Jagjit Singh Kohli is furious. The cable TV industry veteran and promoter of Digicable has reportedly filed a police complaint against Hathway Cable and a distributor Santosh Ankolekar. The police complaint – a copy of which is with indiantelevision.com – names Hathway promoter Viren Raheja, western region in charge and President finance Milind Karnik, an executive Rajendra Rane and Ankolekar as the guilty parties.
JSK – as he is known in the industry - is seeking justice. The reason for him taking such a drastic step is because the latter – who was a distributor of Digicable – did a deal with India’s leading cable TV MSO as part of which he allegedly sold his network to it. Ankolekar, according to Digicable sources – was a small local cable operator with a network of around 1,500 subscribers in the Andheri east area of Mumbai. Ankolekar grew rapidly after his appointment as a distributor by Digicable in 2007. According to the MSO, he was given about 50,000 STBs to seed to local cable operators in the area and convert them to Digicable subscribers, which he did.
“But the network was not really his,” says Kohli. “It was owned by Digicable, and we offered to show the documents to the Hathway management but they were not bothered about facts and continued using our network.”
According to Kohli, Hathway swapped the Digicable boxes for its own and when his team asked them to return them to him, it was not done. “The point is they may have inadvertently made a mistake but then they have to make amends which they are refusing to do,” says Kohli.
Hathway officials deny any wrongdoing. They state that it was Ankolekar who came to the MSO seeking help.
“Digicable had not been able to make payments to broadcasters for quite sometime and his signals were consistently getting switched off,” says a senior Hathway executive. “When he came to us we offered to give him Hathway boxes as we were getting a large territory in the heart of Mumbai. And we would be in a position to provide consistent services to subscribers as our deals with broadcasters are in place.”
The executive states that there was no swapping of boxes or anything of that sort. “Digicable had given the boxes to local cable operators,” says he. “We did too. But we did not take the Digicable boxes back from the LCOs. If the boxes are with the LCOs, then Digicable should take them back from them.”
The MSO stated – at the time of writing – that the company was unaware of Karnik or Viren Raheja being named in the FIR. “We would have got a call from the police station,” says a senior executive. “To the best of our knowledge only Rane and Santosh are named in the FIR and no one else. “
Digicable had earlier had a run-in with Hathway last year when it had alleged that its former CEO Amit Nag had colluded with the latter in “hijacking” its network in Kolkata.