TDSAT gives TataSky 2 weeks to pay Zee Rs 90 million

NEW DELHI: The TDSAT today ordered TataSky to pay up Rs 90 million to Zee Turner within two weeks, as it had received the feed from Zee for 32 channels between September 2006 till April 23, 2007, failing which Zee could discontinue its signals to TataSky as per law.

The case is a reversal for TataSky, which had been given a favourable judgement earlier by the tribunal, which had said that there is no "must carry provision" in the Trai Act, and that TataSky could not be forced to take and run all the 32 channels of Zee Turner in its five bouquets.

The case originated when TataSky wanted to take only 19 channels of Zee Turner for distribution from its platform, whereas Zee Turner had said that there is a "must carry provision implicit in the Trai Act.

Zee had asked TataSky to carry all its 32 channels - or get none in accordance with an earlier TDSAT judgement in the case of ASC vs. Star, arguing this would give the TataSky subscribers genuine choice to enjoy all the channels.

TataSky, unwilling to distribute all the 32 channels, had approached the TDSAT. The sector tribunal, vide its interim order dated 26 October last year, had directed Zee Turner to supply all its 32 channels to TataSky at 50 per cent of their cable rates (Rs 149.85) per subscriber per month, i.e. at Rs. 75/-.

Accordingly, Zee Turner had been providing all its 32 channels to TataSky and the latter started carrying all these channels on its DTH platform till the pendency of the case.

TDSAT in its final judgement dated 31 March this year, accepted the contention of TataSky and held that it could carry only the 19 channels it had wanted from Zee‘s Bouquet-I and Bouquet-II at the rate of Rs 42/- per subscriber per month.

TataSky discontinued and removed the other 13 channels of Zee Turner from its DTH platform from 23 April. Zee Turner had gone in appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the TDSAT order, and the case is pending.

Meanwhile, TataSky informed Zee Turner that even for the period during which it was distributing 32 channels of the broadcaster, that is, from September 2006 to 23 April this year, it would not pay at the rate of Rs 75 per subscriber per month.

It said it would pay at the rate of Rs 42 per subscriber per month to Zee, whereas Zee said that this went against TDSAT‘s interim order.

Zee Turner contested this position of TataSky and requested it to make the payment of the entire outstanding amount at the rate determined by TDSAT. The total outstanding amount due from TataSky to Zee Turner presently is around Rs 90 million.

TataSky again approached TDSAT today for getting a refund of the amount, which according to them was in excess of what they were supposed to pay.

TDSAT, after hearing the parties today, dismissed the DTH player‘s petition, saying that since it had availed of the channels till 23 April, and had raised subscription money from its subscribers, it has to pay the broadcaster for that.

TataSky then requested TDSAT to allow them two weeks time to make the payment of entire outstanding amount, which was granted.


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