Govt cannot deny permission for de-endorsing any channel: TDSAT

NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting ministry (I&B) was directed by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to de-endorse the SK TV channel of Sindhi Kachchhi Entertainment Corporation from the list of channels permitted to be up-linked by the Noida Software Technology Park through its teleport using INSAT 4A satellite with immediate effect.

Noting that the government has itself admitted that it has no role to play with regard to agreements between teleports and television channels, chairman justice Aftab Alam and member Kuldep Singh said “we are unable to appreciate the submissions made by the ministry that it is waiting to receive ‘no objection’ from Sindhi Kachchhi Entertainment Corporation as well as the claim regarding excess payment made by the channel to NSTPL.”

The judgment written by Singh also said the Ministry “can also not delay the permission to NSTPL just because the guidelines do not contain specific provision in this regard and the policy is under process of being framed.”

The tribunal noted that Sindhi Kachchhi Entertainment Corporation has not appeared before the tribunal in spite of notice and from its letters, “it is evident that it has accepted the position of suspension of uplinking of its channel by the petitioner and it is in search of an alternative for the same.”

The Tribunal also said the cost of litigation amounting to Rs 25,000 would be paid to NSTPL.

NSTPL manages JAINHITS, the only head-end in the sky platform at present licensed by the government.  It is engaged in the business of providing up-linking facility and transponder service to the broadcasters and has been granted a license on 24 January 2003 under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 to establish, maintain and operate the up-inking hub (teleport). It has also obtained license from WPC (Wireless Planning & Coordination), Department of Telecommunications. It is operating the teleport as permitted in the letter of the Ministry dated 27 January 2003.

The tribunal noted that the teleport is a satellite ground station that functions as a hub connecting a satellite in a geo-stationary orbit with terrestrial communication network. Teleports are used to provide various broadcasting as well as telecommunication services. In the case of the petitioner, the license granted to it is for up-linking the approved television channels using C-Band. The hub is to be used for up linking TV channels only and not for any other mode of communication.

While NSTPL and Sindhi Kachchhi Entertainment Corporation had entered into an agreement in September 2010 and NSTPL received the requisite permission from the ministry with regard to SK TV.  NSTPL had contended that the channel defaulted in its payments amounting to Rs 31,66,395. The NSTPL then terminated the agreement and approached the Ministry in July last year seeking de-endorsement of the said channel from the list of channels permitted to be uplinked by JAINHITS.

NSTPL filed the petition in January this year after it failed to get a suitable reply from the ministry which told the tribunal that this was a matter between the two parties, and that the channel had written to the ministry in September 2013 that it had made excess payment. It also said when the ministry receives requests for de-endorsement, then it awaits a no-objection from the channel.

The channel had also written to the ministry that since NSTPL was not having transparent business dealing, it has under force majeure clause accepted suspension of its service and was in search of other teleport or DTH operator for transmission of its channel. 

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