DTH

TDSAT allows broadcasters to disconnect signals to RBTV

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has withdrawn the interim protection granted to direct-to-home (DTH) operator Reliance Big TV (RBTV) by allowing broadcasters to disconnect signals for non-payment of dues.

The TDSAT order comes as a big blow for the DTH operator, which is already facing the threat of disconnection of feeds to RBTV by Antrix Corporation, which leases satellite capacity on behalf of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on April 14th unless its bills are met

Star India, ZEEL and Sun TV Network have already disconnected signals to RBTV as it has failed to the clear the outstanding dues for months.

The tribunal?s order means that other broadcasters involved in the matter can disconnect signals to Reliance Big TV in light of the withdrawal of the interim protection.

The other broadcasters involved in the matter include Discovery Communications India, Sony Pictures Networks Distribution India, India Cast Media Distribution, ABP News Network, and Bennett Coleman & Company Ltd (BCCL).

?In view of earlier orders giving repeated opportunities to the respondent, we are of the considered view that it may not be in the interest of justice to continue the interim direction against the petitioners. If such interim directions are continued, the amount of dues will be in excess of the amounts for which the petitioner had approached this Tribunal. Hence, the interim protection in favour of the respondents stands withdrawn,? the TDSAT said in its order.

The tribunal further noted that it will be open for the broadcasters to continue or not to continue with the supply of signals to the DTH operator on the basis of their individual understanding.

?If there is any remarkable change in the situation, parties will be at liberty to seek interim direction otherwise all these petitions shall be made ready for hearing on the issue of recovery of the money claims,? the tribunal stated.

It also asked the DTH company to file their reply in all the claims for recovery within five weeks. Time for rejoinder will be considered on the next date. The matter has been posted under the same head on 11 May.

The DTH operator had assured the tribunal in February that it will settle the claims of all the broadcasters within four weeks. It owes more than Rs 100 crore to multiple broadcasters.

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