Delhi High Court rejects MSM Discovery, Star Den plea

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today declined to interfere with the interim orders of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Authority (Tdsat) directing MSM Discovery and Star Den not to distribute the channels of Viacom18 and Television18 India respectively.

Though these were separate appeals against the orders of Tdsat, Justice S Muralidhar decided to treat them together as they raised the same issues.
Muralidhar said the Court was unable to come to the conclusion that in passing the impugned order, the Tdsat committed any fundamental error in approaching the issue.

The Court therefore said it finds no merit in these three writ petitions and they are dismissed as such with costs of Rs 15,000 each, which will be paid by the Petitioners MSM Discovery and Star Den to Viacom 18 and Television18 in equal shares within two weeks. All pending applications stand disposed of.

The distributors (petitioners in these cases) had said that they had the complete freedom to package all channels available on its platform in their bouquet offering to affiliates/operators so as to maximize the revenue in order to reach all the channels being aware of the market position.

The Court said when such agreements are revoked, the question of granting any interim relief to keep the agency alive does not arise as long as the losses and damages suffered by the agent are capable of being quantified.

Clause 14 and its subsections come to an end with the termination of the agreements. 
The Court also felt that interfering with such an order of Tdsat was violative of the objectives of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act.

Even if the pre-condition for termination as envisaged by Clause XX of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MSM Discovery and Viacom18 or Clause 14 (i) and (iv) of the deal memo between Star Den, TV18 and IBN18 are taken to be negative covenants, that would still not improve the case of the petitioners for grant of any interim relief in their favour.

Earlier Tdsat in its interim order dated 27 July 2010 had restrained MSM Discovery from representing Viacom18 channels (Colors, MTV, Nick and VH1). Tdsat had also in its order dated 29 July 2010 restrained Star Den from representing Network18 channels (CNBC, Aawaz, CNN IBN and IBN7).

MSM Discovery and Star Den subsequently filed an appeal in Delhi High Court against the orders of Tdsat.

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