Regulators

Hathway delayed agreement on signals of Zee and Turner: Taj Television

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NEW DELHI: In today’s hearing in the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Taj Television counsel contended today and blamed Hathway Cable & Datacom for the delay in an agreement to Zee and Turner channels. She also claimed that Hathway had falsely written in its letter to Taj TV on 23 July that no negotiations were held and presented to TDSAT the dates on which meetings were held between the parties with regard to Zee TV signals.

Counsel Pratibha Singh told the TDSAT today that Hathway had admitted that it had not paid for the Zee TV channels distributed between 1 April and 23 July.

In the ongoing hearing before the Tribunal in the cases linked to Taj TV signals for Turner and Zee, Singh said three meetings had been held to sort out the issue, the last being on 16 June after which Taj TV had sent a copy of the agreement under the reference interconnection offer (RIO) to Hathway. A letter was also sent to Hathway in this connection on 26 June.

Earlier, the Tribunal had fixed for final disposal from 25 August the ‘deep-rooted’ dispute between Hathway and Taj TV, noting that this would require interpretation of certain clauses of some of the statutory regulations.

TDSAT chairman Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh had said: ‘unfortunately, the dispute between the two sides is playing out in highly aggressive way and one may add in a rather unpleasant manner. It seems to be affecting a large number of people in viewing their favourite TV channels. The disputants themselves are approaching the Tribunal on a weekly basis complaining against the actions of each other and seeking some interim directions of the Tribunal consuming a lot of time on arguments on miscellaneous applications.  It is, therefore, in the larger interest to finally dispose of these cases after hearing all sides at an early date.’

The Tribunal noted that the dispute had arisen at a stage when the earlier fixed fee agreement between the parties has come to end and they are unable to come to agreed terms for a fresh agreement and under the circumstances the MSO has no option but to take the broadcasters’ channels on their RIO terms.

When talks between the two parties failed, he said the RIO was forwarded on 25 January and was to be effective from February.

Further arguments will continue tomorrow with counsel for Zee expected to conclude her arguments and Hathway responding to them.

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