Television

Supreme Court adjourns Star-Siti HITS row case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today adjourned the case of Star-Siti Cable for later this week after hearing the initial arguments.On Saturday (31 August), Star had moved the Supreme Court appealing against a MRTPC order last week that had stated that cs should continue to make available their signals to Zee Telefilms' headend in the sky (HITS) platform till the next hearing date on 10 September.

According to information available with indiantelevision.com, today at the Supreme Court, Star's lawyer contended that the basis of the MRTPC order was wrong as Star had no existing agreement with Siti Cable, Zee Telefilms' cable arm that is the biggest multi-system operator (MSO) in the country.

Siti Cable and another Subhash Chandra company, ASC Enterprises, had moved the MRTPC against Star India Pvt. Ltd; Sony Entertainment Television; Singapore Pte Limited, SET India; ESPN- Star Sports and Hathway Datacom seeking prevention against trade practices that could amount to being monopolistic.

"Because the various acts/omissions of the respondents in refusing to cooperate and enter into any sort of arrangement/agreement with the complainants herein for the implementation of CAS via HITS is a monopolistic, restrictive and unfair trade practice in terms of the Monopolistic, Restrictive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, 1969," Siti cable/ASC's petition had stated at the MRTPC.

It had further said that all other pay channels had agreed to join the HITS platform, being conscious of their obligation to achieve what the government has sought to do by the introduction of CAS in the larger public interest.

It had been submitted that the complainants have been negotiating with various pay channels other than those of the respondents and those that have agreed in principle to join the HITS platform included CNBC, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, CNN, Raj TV, MTV, Reality TV, Ten Sports, Alpha Bangla, Alpha Gujarati, Alpha Marathi Alpha Punjabi, ETC, Zee Cinema, Zee TV, Zee English

Zee MGM, Zee News and NDTV.

The petition had further stated: "It is most respectfully submitted that the above-mentioned pay channels being conscious of their social and legal obligations, have all agreed in the larger public interest to enter into agreements with the complainants herein for the distribution of their signals via HITS in the CAS regime. However, the respondents herein without any justifiable or valid reason are refusing to do so and are, therefore, guilty of commission of monopolistic, restrictive and unfair trade practices and are liable to be penalised under the MRTP Act.

"Because all others, apart from those of the respondents herein, have in fact appreciated the benefits of CAS implementation via HITS including the broadcasters, cable operators, other pay channels and the government since the said technology effectively eliminates the menace of under-declaration."

Pointing out that the respondents were attempting to stifle competition and prevent the operation of free market forces, Siti/ASC had pleaded that with the " said acts/omissions the respondents are preventing the operation of free market forces; appropriate orders therefore deserve to be passed by this Hon'ble Commission."

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