Television

TDSAT puts a lock on any DTH operator carrying Star channels

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MUMBAI: As the second direct-to-home player Tata Sky gears for launch, the Telecom Disputes Redressal and Settlement Tribunal (TDSAT), in an interim order passed today, has ruled that Star channels will not be made available to any other DTH platform.

The development took place as Star India gave an undertaking in this regard to the disputes tribunal, which posted the case for hearing on 3 July on a petition filed by the Subhash Chandra-owned Dish TV.

If this order is interpreted in another way, it could also mean that Tata Sky would not be able to launch before 3 July and if it does so, it would have to do without the Star channels. Its test signals for the service also would not carry any Star channels till 3 July.

Contacted by Indiantelevision.com, a Tata Sky spokesperson refused comment saying they had not received any notification from the tribunal on the matter. Star officials also declined to comment.

The Chandra-promoted ASC Enterprises, which owns a DTH licence to operate a service under Dish TV brand, had moved TDSAT on 25 April alleging that Star was flouting the sector regulator's (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India - Trai) diktat on making available all content to all platforms on flimsy grounds.

The ASC petition states, "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 of channels."

The petition also mentions that discussions with Star were initiated by Dish TV in December 2004. Star is 20 per cent shareholder in Tata Sky, while the remaining stake is held by the Tatas.

Meanwhile, Dish TV’s negotiations with Discovery-Sony joint venture One Alliance, which distributes signals of channels such as Sony, MTV, Nick, SET Max, Discovery to name a few, too, has not been concluded despite industry sources indicating that a formal announcement was due any time.

Dish TV has also won a favourable judgement from TDSAT that has directed MTV Networks to make available MTV and Nick to Dish TV on a commercial basis. MTV has appealed against this order in the Supreme Court.

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