Regulators

TDSAT reflects on unprecedented course of MIB in Star - Arasu case

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Arbitration Tribunal (TDSAT) hearing a case by a local cable operator against Star India, described as ‘strange and unprecedented’ the course adopted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in responding to its question relating to denial of digital addressable system (DAS) licence to the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd.

Following an order on 11 August asking the MIB to give its stand on the issue, the Ministry had sent ‘a note to the Tribunal through a messenger.’

Passing its order in the presence of the Section Officer on 14 August, the Tribunal said the Ministry should send a senior level officer and also take an advocate to represent it and may additionally file an affidavit giving its point of view. It made clear that it was not accepting the note brought by the Section officer and was returning it.

The Tribunal had early this month put out a notification asking broadcasters who may want to join the case to get impleaded.

The application by Star India related to a cable operator giving its signals in analogue mode to Chennai – which had gone digital in the first phase – and in violation of the letter of intent by giving signals to Chennai when the agreement was only for the rest of Tamil Nadu.

Listing the matter for 2 September, TDSAT also said Star India, 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, TDSAT chairman Aftab Alam and members Kuldip Singh and B B Srivastava said that there would be no disconnection of signals until the next date.

It also directed that Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) should be impleaded as a party since other broadcasters were also giving signals to Arasu for Chennai though it did not have the DAS licence. Option was also given to other broadcasters if they wanted to be impleaded.

However, the Tribunal held Arasu guilty of transmitting television signals in Chennai in analogue mode, and at the same time guilty of using Star signals in the metropolis without any authorization from Star India.

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