Television

CNBC slams INCablenet for blocking feed in Mumbai

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The multi-system operator (MSO)-broadcaster face-off has taken another twist. Now the dramatis personae are the Hinduja group-controlled INCablenet and business news channel CNBC India. The former apparently has taken CNBC India feed off its networks in Mumbai since Tuesday allegedly in retaliation for a report carried by the channel on the Hindujas and Bofors case earlier this week.

In a counter move, CNBC India has decided to stop covering the Hinduja group's business activities and has also deleted the Hinduja group's scrip price movement from its ticker service, which comes at the bottom of the TV screen.

While the Hinduja Group has not sent any kind of written communication to CNBC India, two of their executives clearly confirmed that the action was taken since "the Hinduja Group was extremely unhappy with the CNBC report," Haresh Chawla, chief executive of Television Eighteen Ltd, told indiantelevision.com today, when quizzed on the face-off with INCablenet.

TV Eighteen Ltd is the Indian joint venture partner of CNBC Asia in CNBC India.

INCablenet president Rajiv Vyas, however, said the business channel was off the network because it had failed to provide "an official undertaking that it was complying with all terms and conditions of the Cable Act."

An official statement from TV18 has said the INCablenet action was an "unjust and illegal retaliation" against CNBC India for a 16 September report the business channel carried on submissions made by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a Delhi Court in the Rs 640 million Bofors pay-off case against the Hindujas. This story was based on a wire report put out by the United News of India news agency.

Condemning the alleged motives behind the move, CNBC India has stated that the action by the Hinduja Group is an "assault" on the freedom of the media.

As a mark of its own protest, CNBC India shall forthwith cease coverage of the commercial activities of the Hinduja Group, the TV18 statement said. "As a first action, share prices of Hinduja Group companies, viz Ashok Leyland and Hinduja TMT, are being dropped from the ticker on the channel. The advertising spots of Gulf Oil, another Hinduja Group company, on the channel are also being removed forthwith," Chawla said.

CNBC India is also mulling moving the Press Council of India and the ministry of information & broadcasting for enforcing their just authority in this matter, besides taking recourse to any other remedy that shall be available to it, unless INCablenet apologises, the statement said.

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