I&B should reconsider revocation of DAS licence to Home Cable: HC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to take a decision on restoring the licence for digital addressable system to the multi-system operator Home Cable Network [P] Limited within three days.

The order by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Vipin Sanghi says that the order is subject to Home Cable filing ‘within 24 hours‘ all DAS related information sought by the Ministry.

The Court also permitted the MSO to negotiate and enter into the DAS Interconnect Agreements with the Pay TV broadcasters/ Channel aggregators.

The registration of Home Cable and Swami Cable Network had been revoked by the Ministry on 28 August on the ground that they had failed to submit necessary documents.

Both the MSOs were registered with the Ministry and had been asked to furnish information regarding preparations for implementation of DAS and their plans for infrastructure expansion as mandated in the DAS regime.

Senior Advocate Aman Lekhi and Gaurang Kanth, counsel for Home Cable, argued that the impugned order was mala fide and prejudiced against the Petitioner.

It was argued that there was no ground available with the MIB to take such a punitive action against the MSO, which already had already installed DAS and had been running it since 2007 and catering to more than 11,000 Digital subscribers since Conditional Access System was introduced in South Delhi with a capacity to carry 650 digital TV channels.

It was also submitted that Home Cable had failed to get replies to various issues cited by it to the Ministry concerning the interest of millions of the Cable TV subscribers and may result in a situation of complete chaos, blackouts, exploitation of consumers and eventually deficiency in the service provided when DAS is implemented from 1 November in the four metros.

When revoking the licences, the Ministry had said the non submission of data by these MSOs "is indicative of their lack of seriousness to pursue their business as per the terms and conditions of their registration", adding that in the overall context of implementation of DAS it had taken a serious view of the non compliance of directions of the Ministry by these two MSOs and revoked their registration after due notice.

When contacted, Home Cable founder-promoter Vikki Choudhry told that he had submitted all information according to the format of the Ministry and also sent a Consumers‘ Charter, in keeping with the Court order.

A perusal of the documents submitted shows that while there is demand for 40,000 digital set top boxes, Home Cable had installed 9869 as in 18 October and placed orders for another 30,000 since he has only 400 STBs in stock.

The document also states that he had placed the order on 9 August for the Chinese-made STBs, and he expected to seed all cable homes by 31 December this year.

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