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MRTPC directs Star, others to file reply on Siti HITS row

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MUMBAI: The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) today instructed Star, Sony and ESPN-Star Sports to file replies in the joint case brought before it by the Zee Group's Siti Cable-ASC Enterprises regarding the headend in the sky (HITS) platform.

The MRTPC has scheduled the next hearing of the case on 14 October.

Siti had suffered a setback yesterday after the Supreme Court vacated an order issued earlier by the MRTPC that the three pay networks should continue to make available their signals to its HITS platform till a final ruling by the commission.

The SC judgment means that Siti would technically be violating Star and Sony's copyright if it carries the networks' channels on its HITS platform in the absence of an agreement.

Siti Cable and another Subhash Chandra company, ASC Enterprises, had moved the MRTPC against Star India, Sony Entertainment Television Singapore Pvt Ltd, SET India, ESPN- Star Sports and the MSO Hathway Datacom (in which Star has a 26 per cent stake) 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 before the MRTPC had stated.

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.

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