Technology

Star Den, Zee Turner and MSM Discovery guilty of malpractices in HP: Tdsat

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has held Star Den, MSM Discovery and Zee Turner guilty of letting their signals be distributed illegally by a Punjab-based leading multiple system operator (MSO) in Himachal Pradesh without getting necessary approvals.


Tdsat chairperson S B Sinha and member P K Rastogi said the three “shall also pay a sum of Rs 25,000 each to the petitioner”, the MSOs of Himachal Pradesh – Solan Sat TV, Solan Communications, and Bridge View Broadband Network.


"Having regard to the fact that the witness of Fastway has resorted to suppressio veri and has not answered a large number of questions and thus taking that fact into consideration, we are of the opinion, an exemplary cost of Rs 100,000 should be imposed on it," the Tribunal said.


Tdsat in its judgment also asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to probe, if possible, the three firms’ role since it felt that the MSO Fastway could not have become a dominant player in the state with 65 per cent market share in the state without their “connivance”.


“We are sending a copy of this order to the regulator (Trai) only for the purpose of considering that 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 Punjab, had been permitted with the connivance of the broadcasters to sneak in 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 appears 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 which was the objective of the Parliament as also of the Regulator.


The tribunal will also send copies of its findings to the Post Master of Shimla and Solan which are statutorily authorised to issue licence to cable operator and the District Magistrate of Shimla and Solan “for appropriate action on their part” against Fastway Transmissions. “We have no doubt in our mind that the concerned Post Masters would take appropriate action as is permissible in law. The learned authorized officer may also consider the desirability of taking such action against the Respondent as is permissible in law.”


“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.


The MSOs had also requested the tribunal to direct Fastway not to illegally encroach upon their authorised areas and submitted CDs and its brochure as evidence.


Star Den is a 50:50 joint venture between the broadcasting houses Star India and Den Networks for distribution of their TV channels.


Zee-Turner is a 76:24 joint venture between Zee Entertainment and Turner India. Now Star Den and Zee Turner have floated a joint venture, Media ProEnterprise.


MSM Discovery is a 74:26 joint venture between Multi Screen Media (Sony group) and Discovery Communications for distributing their channels.

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