Regulators

TDSAT to hear Hathway and Taj TV on their 'aggressive' dispute later this month

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) today fixed for final disposal on 25 August the ‘deep-rooted’ dispute between Hathway and Taj TV in public interest, noting that this would require interpretation of certain clauses of some of the statutory regulations.

TDSAT chairman Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh said: ‘Unfortunately, the dispute between the two sides is playing out in a 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.”

The Tribunal noted that both sides have assured the Tribunal that they would avoid issuing the offensive advertisements against each other.

In the order today, the Tribunal directed Taj TV to file their respective replies in petitions nos 319(C) of 2014 and 47(C) of 2014 by 20 August 2014. In case Hathway wishes to file any rejoinder, it should serve a copy of the rejoinder on the other side by 23 August subject to which it may file the rejoinder on 25 August.

The Tribunal noted that the dispute has arisen at a stage when the earlier fixed fee agreement between the parties has come to end and they were 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.

Earlier this month, TDSAT had directed Taj Television to restore with immediate effect the signals of Zee TV channels to Hathway Cable and Datacom pending the final hearing a petition by the latter. The broadcaster had switched off signals to the MSO stating that the two hadn’t reached a solution to their problems.

It had also directed Hathway, as an interim measure to make payment of the monthly subscription fees from 1 April 2014 (in case of in case of Kolkata and Digital Addressable System - II areas) and from 1 May 2014 (in case of Delhi and Mumbai) up to 31 July at the of Rs.21.60 cost per subscriber basis.

Zee channels were earlier being distributed to Hathway by Media Pro but the latter was not in a position to renew the agreements. In view of the Regulations issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India around the same time the earlier agreements came to end.

Thus, the Zee group of channels came to be handled by Taj Television. But when discussions between Hathway and Taj Television for Zee TV channels failed to yield any results, Taj TV on 26 June sent the RIO based agreement executed from its side. There was delay on the part of Hathway in executing the RIO based agreement and in the meanwhile Taj Television issued the disconnection notice under regulation 6.1 on 8 July 2014 and the public notice under regulation 6.5 on 11 July 2014. However, Hathway later counter-signed the RIO based agreement and sent it back to Taj Television which refused to accept a cheque sent by Hathway. This led to the petition by Hathway. 

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