TDSAT asks SPN, Tata Sky to reach an agreement in 4 weeks

If required, the parties may seek an extension of this period

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has heard the case on the recent commercial dispute between Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Tata Sky on a failed negotiation. TDSAT heard the case on 11 October and advised the parties to take four weeks to try and reach a mutually acceptable negotiated agreement. Moreover, it also rejected the relief sought by Sony Pictures Networks seeking Tata Sky to carry all its channels.

“The other interim prayer is to direct the parties to enter into negotiations for a period of at least four weeks. The prayer is with a view to enable the parties to enter into fresh negotiations so as to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement based on negotiations,” the tribunal said. Even if required, the parties may seek extension of this period as per the order.

SPN issued a disconnection notice to leading DTH platform Tata Sky on 7 September which was followed by a public notice on 10 September. Following the development, the latter proposed a RIO based agreement effective 30 September midnight for 10 channels only out of which just two channels was accepted by the former.

Dushyant  Dave,  learned  senior  counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of  the SPN   raised   the  grievance   that  Tata Sky  has  not  been  fair   to  those customers   and   subscribers  who  were   earlier   viewing  the  channels   of  the petitioner  because  it  required  the  viewers   to  give  a  missed  call  on  a  given number  in case  they  wanted  to  view  the  relevant  channel  even  out  of  the  10 channels  selected  by the respondent.

Kapil Sibal, on behalf of Tata Sky, submitted that if SPN was guided by consumer interest it would not have given a notice of disconnection while the parties had been negotiating renewal of the previous contract of Rs 800 crore. The court also noted that SPN asked for Rs 1700 crore even after losing the IPL rights to Star.

“On a careful perusal of the relevant materials noted above,  we are of the view that now when the parties are being governed by terms of petitioner's RIO for which respondent has sent its acceptance and such agreement is effective from 01.10.2018 after notice to the viewers and subscribers,  it would not be in the interest of justice or equity to grant any interim relief so as to reintroduce the old agreement even for a period of four weeks as per the interim prayer,” the tribunal said after hearing both the parties.

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