Zee-Turner appeals to TDSAT against restoring signals to Asianet; charges it with piracy

NEW DELHI: Zee-Turner, a distribution joint venture between Zee Telefilms and Time Warner, has appealed to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on a recent sector regulator directive asking it to restore signals to Asianet in Kerala.

The Zee-Turner bouquet has been off from the Asianet cable network since 16 December 2004 due to alleged non-payment of dues amounting to Rs 30 million. The company has also charged Asianet with unauthorised distribution of signals and under-declaration of subscriber base that has resulted in huge financial losses.

In a statement today, Zee-Turner CEO Siddharth Jain said, "Asianet has been indulging in rampant piracy of our signals and unethical business practices. While the company claims to reach over 700,000 (7 lakhs) households in Kerala, as per the information published in their official brochure, it has been making a mockery of the declaration of subscriber base to us by declaring a very small percentage. Even this minuscule declaration has not been paid for as is evident from the outstanding amount."

Since December last, viewers in Kerala have been missing out on their favourite programmes, as well as a slew of exciting new shows lined up for them, as a result of this imbroglio.

Kerala cable TV households connected through Asianet have not been able to watch their favourite channels, including Zee Cinema, Zee TV, Zee English, Cartoon Network, Pogo, CNBC and ZMZ. After general entertainment and popular kids' channels it was the turn of the prime time English movie channel HBO to disappear from the television screens last week.

"Despite the numerous talks, it now seems futile to expect any co-operation from Asianet in resolving the situation. We have absolutely no other option but to stick to our rightful stand and appeal to TDSAT," Jain said.

The Rajan Raheja-controlled Asianet Satellite Communications Ltd. is the largest cable network services company in Kerala, and is the leading service provider in the region for Cable TV and Internet solutions. Its cable network services operate from over 40 centers spread throughout Kerala and touch over half a million homes and establishments.

With a countrywide network of over 400 dealers, Zee-Turner has a wide distribution structure in the country and its bouquet caters to wide genre of programming.

Zee-Turner Ltd. is a joint venture company that manages distribution and trade marketing for Zee Telefilms and Turner International (a Time Warner company) bouquet of channels, as well as third party channels such as CNBC and Reality TV, in India and Nepal. Headquartered in New Delhi, Zee-Turner boasts of a combined viewership of more than 30 million households with an equal spread throughout the country.

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