TDSAT adjourns Star India-Chennai LCO case following stay by Madras HC

NEW DELHI: The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has been spared the onus of explaining denial of digital addressable system (DAS) licence to the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd (TACTV) following a Madras High Court order.


The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Arbitration Tribunal (TDSAT) has adjourned sine die the hearing of the LCO Thamizhaga vs Star India case in which the Arasu question had arisen.


The order by TDSAT chairman Justice Aftab Alam and members Kuldip Singh and BB Srivastava came on being informed by the Government counsel that a single judge of the High Court had on 28 August stayed the proceedings pending before the Tribunal.


The Tribunal however gave liberty to the parties to bring to its notice any further development in the matter.


On 14 August, TDSAT had asked the I&B Ministry to file an affidavit in a matter where the root issue was about the denial of DAS licence to TACTV. It also directed the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to get impleaded in the case.


At that time, TDSAT also said Star India, a respondent in the case filed by cable operator Thamizhaga Cable TV Communication, New Delhi, was free to negotiate with Arasu and other multi-system operators (MSOs) for areas in Chennai for DAS and outside Chennai for analogue transmission.


At the same time, it said that there would be no disconnection of signals until the next date.


However, the Tribunal had held that Arasu (TACTV) was guilty of transmitting television signals in Chennai – which had adopted DAS in the first phase - in analogue mode, and at the same time guilty of using Star signals in the metropolis without any authorization inter-connect agreement with Star India.


The Tribunal was told by TACTV that it had applied for a DAS licence as far back as July 2012 but the government had failed to take a decision despite an order of the Madras High Court of December 2013 asking the Centre to take a decision on the application of TACTV for grant of its license “in the soonest possible time.”


Noting that there is no compliance with the direction of the Court even after more than a year and half, the Tribunal had felt it was imperative to know the stand of the Government for a proper adjudication of the matter. 


The Tribunal had not accepted the argument by TACTV in the last hearing that it had negotiated with Star India for the entire state since the Letter of Intent (LoI) was only for the rest of Tamil Nadu barring Chennai.

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