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DAS Phase III stay extended in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

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New Delhi: With the Supreme Court stating that the stay on Phase III of digital addressable system by the Bombay High Court is not pan-India, stakeholders in three states – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh – have received further extensions for varying periods.

While the Hyderabad High Court has clubbed the two cases of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and granted a four week extension, the Allahabad High Court extended the stay for three more months.

The Hyderabad High Court which received the counter-affidavit from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, gave time to the petitioners in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana - AP MSOs Federation and Federation of Telangana MSOs - to file their replies,

The plea taken by both the petitioners had been the shortage of set top boxes, which had in late December led to a two month extension.

The Supreme Court had made the observation on an appeal by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, which was subsequently withdrawn.

In Allahabad, where the petitioners have also taken the plea of shortage of STBs, the High Court directed I&B Ministry as well as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to file counter-affidavits within four weeks.

 “In the meanwhile, we direct the respondents not to disconnect the cable TV network operated by the petitioner through the analogue system for a period of three months from today,” the court said.

DAS Phase III has already been stayed for varying periods by High Courts in Assam, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh, for the entire states, apart from Tamil Nadu where prolonged legal cases have been pending since Phase I.

In Karnataka, three individual stakeholders have got stay orders in Mangalore and Mysore areas while there is no state-wide stay. However, MSOs and Local Cable Operators in various parts of Karnataka told indiantelevision.com that transmission is still being use in analogue mode even in areas that fall in Phase III but for which no stay has been obtained.

Interestingly, Ministry sources admitted to indiantelevision.com that there was a misreading of the Bombay High Court directive. The Court had merely refereed to the Kusum Ingots & Alloys Ltd vs the Union of India 2004 case to say that if one High Court gives a stay, another High Court can act in similar fashion if the facts are similar – in this case, shortage of STBs. Thus, they agree that the High Court stay was only confined to Maharashtra and not pan-India.

The Bombay High Court passed a unique judgment stating that the Hyderabad High Court order would be applicable across India as per the Supreme Court judgment in.

Meanwhile, The Ministry has filed a similar petition and sought not merely vacation of the stay orders by various High Courts, but also clubbing the cases together.

The meeting of the Phase III and Phase IV Task Force - the first to be held after the 31 December deadline of Phase III – was told by Ministry Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) R Jaya that the percentage achievement had increased from 76.45 per cent as on 30 December 2015 to 90.44 per cent as on 15 February 2016.

It was also claimed that the seeding of set top boxes by multi system operators increased from 6.91 million (69.1 lakh) to 12.43 million (124.3 lakh) for the same period.

DAS Phase III covers 33.18 million (331.8 lakh( TV households across 29 states and five Union Territories, after changes made in updates for various states.

Although Phase III was aimed at covering all remaining urban areas in the country, Ministry sources admitted that several urban may now be clubbed with the rural areas where the deadline is 31 December 2016.

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