Tdsat rules in favour of Dish TV; MTV has one month to get onto DTH platform

MUMBAI: In the next 30 days, music channel MTV and kids channel Nick may well be available on direct-to-home service provider Dish TV, 20 per cent owned by Zee Telefilms.

This follows a favourable judgment that the country's as yet only private DTH operator won today from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat). As per Tdsat's directive, in the next 30 days the two channels from the MTV stable will have to be visible to Dish TV subscribers.

The judgment can well be viewed as a model on the must-provide clause of the interconnect regulation, outlined for the broadcast sector by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

As per the judgment, Tdsat has made it clear that if MTV Networks still refuses to abide by the ruling, the latter can move Tdsat again.

Commenting on the ruling, MTV Networks India Ltd Sr VP network development and licensing and merchandising Sanjeev Hiremath says: "MTV and Nick are distributed in India through the One Alliance. One alliance is already in talks with ASC Enterprise and as you would have read in the press recently, they are near closure."

Last year, Dish TV had moved the disputes tribunal seeking legal redressal against, what it says, is MTV's unwillingness to come on to its DTH platform.

It is interesting to note that the two petitioners, ASC Enterprises Ltd. & Anr and New Era Entertainment Network Ltd. specified, "The channels MTV and Nick are stated to be available on DTH platforms in other countries and as such it is highly inappropriate and discriminatory on the part of the respondent (MTV Networks), not to make available their channels on the petitioner's Dish TV-DTH platform operating in India."

What seems to have worked in Dish TV's favour in this case is that MTV's English music channel Vh1 is available on Dish by virtue of its being part of the Zee-Turner distribution bouquet. MTV Networks is unique in India in that two of its channels (MTV and Nick) are a part of the One Alliance bouquet while the third (Vh1) is on Zee-Turner.

As per clause 3.1 of the Telecommunication Broadcasting and Cable Services Interconnection Regulation 2004, which cover revenue among service providers for interconnection and revenue share for all Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services throughout the territory of India, "No broadcaster of TV channels shall engage in any practice or activity or enter into any understanding or arrangement, including exclusive contracts with any distributor of TV channels that prevents any other distributor of TV channels from obtaining such TV channels for distribution."

Clause 3.2 states, "Every broadcaster shall provide on request signals of its TV channels on non-discriminatory terms to all distributors of TV channels, which may include, but be not limited to a cable operator, direct to home operator, multi system operator, head ends in the sky operator; Multi system operators shall also on request re-transmit signals received from a broadcaster, on a non-discriminatory basis to cable operators."

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