TDSAT to ETV: stream signals to MSO rolling out Cas voluntarily

NEW DELHI: In what is being referred to as the first legal case on voluntary Cas, TDSAT has vacated its own earlier stay order and asked ETV to stream its digital signals to Ortel Communications, an Orissa-based MSO that is seeking to introduce Cas there without any government mandate.

The sector tribunal, in its ruling of 9 April, has ordered ETV to stream its signals to Ortel within seven days.

In a significant clarification, the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal said that its order of 1 March, when it had first asked ETV to stream its digital signals to Ortel, did not violate Section 4A of the Cable Television Act.


It may be remembered that Ortel is an Orissa-based MSO which had decided to roll out Cas in some cities of the state though it does not come under any government mandated area for Cas rollout.

It had filed a case with TDSAT praying that ETV be asked to stream its signals to the MSO, and the latter had agreed to pay the broadcaster as per SMS data, for each customer that would view the channels of ETV.

Though TDSAT had first ruled in favour of Ortel (on 1 March), senior counsel for ETV, Parag Tripathi had argued that this would violate Section 4A of the Act and TDSAT did not have the authority to rollout Cas, which power lay exclusively with the Parliament.


TDSAT had on 14 March granted a stay on the matter, regarding which the order has finally been given.

TDSAT has said that Tripathi had stretched his argument and the earlier order does not violate Section 4A.

That section "...makes it obligatory for every cable operator to transmit or retransmit programme of any pay channel through an addressable system…"

The court has said that its order creates no compulsion.

"Our order does not make it obligatory for the cable operators to transmit or retransmit programmes in a particular form, nor does it apply to all the cable operators.

Therefore, in our view, our order cannot be said to be violative of Section 4A of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

By our order we are not introducing CAS, nor are we compelling anybody to go in for digital system.

The court observed that Ortel wants signals only in the digital mode, which means that a customer who is interested in having signals in the digital mode alone will come to the petitioner.

It said also that by its own admission, ETV streams signals in both analogue and digital modes, and Ortel wanted only the digital streaming. By asking it to do so, TDSAT has not forced Cas in any area.

"In our considered view, the argument is untenable as we find that there is no violation of Section 4A by our said order," TDSAT has ruled.


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