Cable TV

Dish moves TDSAT against Star

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NEW DELHI: Court cases are buzzing all over the place in the media sector as deadlines for various guidelines, including adhering to downlink norms, near.

In its first direct salvo against the Hong Kong-based Star Group, the Subhash Chandra-promoted ASC Enterprises, owners of the Dish TV DTH service in India, has moved the disputes tribunal against the former's reluctance to make available Star channels to its platform.

"It is respectfully submitted that the present petition has been filed due to the refusal on the part of the respondent (Star Group through Star India) to supply its bouquet one channels to the petitioner on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms," the petition states.

Filed today at the Telecom Disputes Redressal and Settlement Tribunal (TDSAT), the ASC petition adds, "The unreasonableness on the part of the respondent is evident from the fact that the respondent has laid down impracticable and unreasonable terms and conditions for supply of its bouquet one channels."

Contacted by indiantelevision.com, a Star India spokesperson said, "Negotiations are on with Dish TV. Beyond that we cannot comment as we have not heard from TDSAT yet."

The petition has been filed as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in an order has mandated that all content should be made available to all delivery platforms on a non-discriminatory basis.

Justifying its action of approaching the TDSAT, the petition seeks "appropriate directions against the acts of omission and commission" of Star, including its failure to provide on request the signals of the channels of its first bouquet "on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms."

Bouquet one of Star consists of channels like Star Plus, Star Movies, Star News, Star World, Star Gold, Channel [V], National Geographic Channel, The History Channel and Vijay TV.

The second bouquet --- the formation of which was necessitated owing to certain directions from the sector regulator in an effort to control cable TV prices --- comprises Star One, Hungama, The Disney Channel and Toon Disney.

What is interesting is that the Chandra company has decided to take on one time ally-turned-competitor with a vengeance.

The petition not only states that discussions with Star were initiated by Dish TV in December 2005, but also insinuates that the delay in concluding a commercial agreement is deliberate as the respondent is a joint venture partner in another DTH service, Tata Sky, proposing to start operations later this year.

Interestingly, Dish TV has won a favourable direction from TDSAT in a similar case involving MTV.

Discovery-Sony distribution joint venture One Alliance, which comprises MTV and sibling channel Nick, is said to be close to striking a deal with Dish TV for its channels that include the likes of SET, MAX, Discovery and AXN.

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