Hathway, Zee Turner clash, complaint reaches Trai

NEW DELHI: Hathway Nashik Television Network Pvt Ltd has written to Trai that the referrence interconnection offer (RIO) by Zee Turner is violative of constitutional rights amd is against consumers interests. It is also discriminating between Hathway and Zee‘s sister concern Wire & Wireless India Ltd. (WWIL).

The sector tribunal TDSAT had in a previous hearing told Hathway to download the RIO and sign the agreement between Zee and the multi-system operator (MSO), but the latter told that the RIO was patently illegal.

The letter of complaint, a copy of which is with, has been sent independently to Zee Turner and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), for their comments.


Hathway has said that the RIO violates Article 19 and the freedom of business, and more importantly, also goes against the government‘s decision to go for digitisation, as Zee wants to give the signals only on the analogue mode to MSOs.

However, Zee Turner legal officials told, first of all, that the RIO is meant for analogue business model only. Even the previous agreement had been for analogue only.

"The digital set up is a completely different thing, and it is a different business model," said the Zee official, adding, "And if they want digital, let them approach us and we shall settle the issues."


On the complaint that Article 19 has been violated, he said: "Zee has to protect its copyright. If they expect that we would allow them to record new movies or matches and rerun them, they are being unreasonable."

The issue of discrimination is also serious, with Zee allegedly charging WWIL less for a universe that is much than that of Hathway in terms of market share.

"RIO completely restricts process of digitalisation, which is contrary to effort on the part of Trai to digitalise services.

But Zee says on this that Hathway had never discussed the issue of digital feed. "We had agreed to give digital feed to Ortel, the Orissa MSO, but for that they had asked us for a special package, and the whole thing was discussed with Trai and then we agreed."

"Further by entering into only Analogue RIO, the number of retransmitted channels would be restricted, which compels lesser retransmission of channels of all broadcasters, but the price charged by all broadcasters would be on all bundles of channels, which is against consumer interest," Hathway has complained.

The RIO places no obligations whatsoever on Zee Turner, whereas entire obligation under the agreement is placed only on the subscribers, Hathway has said and feels this violates principle of natural justice as all clauses are in favour of Zee Turner.

Hathway says that the RIO should ensure obligation upon Zee Turner for compliance with Trai notifications and regulations, "including but not limiting to offering its services on non-discriminatory terms to all distributors of TV channels".

The complaint is that the entire clause is contrary to ground reality and hence the words "under-disclosure or wrong disclosure of subscriber base" should be deleted.

The RIO bases all future agreements on the basis that all recipients of all pay channels are being watched by all subscribers all the time.

Also, the RIO has been shaped as if all the channels are paid for by identical number of subscribers, to all broadcasters, and has no reliance on various parameters including popularity, linguistic or other preference, viewership, places, etc, the petition says.

Hathway says that as per reports, a viewer is watching only 15 to 20 channels, but which are the channels is the main question, and hence under a non-addressable system, MSOs subscribe for all channels on the basis of negotiated subscriber base, which has been the prevalent business practice over the last 11 years.

MSOs do not receive list of cable operators‘ subscribers. They collect negotiated lump-sum charges from LCOs, which is the ground reality, but the RIO has ignored that, Hathway has complained.

Zee says also that there is nothing unreasonable at all in asking the MSO to restrict itself to the areas they have mentioned in their agreement, and if they want to give feed to hotels, then that too is a special package.

"We have to see which are the hotels, of what rating and with how many rooms, and then decide on the tariff for hotels, which cannot be the same as household tariffs," Zee said.


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