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MIB safeguards itself, asks applicant MSOs to sign affidavit

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NEW DELHI: Even as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) continues to delay security clearances to multi-system operators (MSO), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) today asked applicants to file their applications in an affidavit. The affidavit wants MSOs to commit that they have no criminal cases pending against them, and that they will shut down if they are refused security clearance.

The MIB has also asked applicant MSOs to commit that in the event of any closure due to security clearance refusal by the Home Ministry, the applicants will not have any claim whatsoever against the Government for any investment that they made pursuant to the provisional registration.

The note also bars those MSOs – or their parent companies – that have been barred provisional registration earlier.

It is learnt that around 700 applications by MSOs are either pending with the MIB or the Home Ministry for permanent license under digital addressable system (DAS).

A source from the ministry told Indiantelevision.com that the commitment had always been a part of the agreement between MSOs and the government, but it had now been decided to take it in the form of an affidavit, which would give it greater legal sanctity.

However, sources from the MSO fraternity were of the opinion that the aim of the new affidavit appeared to be to prevent MSOs from filing cases in courts of law on being denied permanent registration. One major example was Kal Cables where the Madras High Court had asked the MIB last year to explain why registration was being denied.

At the outset, the Ministry notes that, “A large number of applications for grant of MSO registrations have been received in the Ministry. All complete applications have been sent to Ministry of Home Affairs for security clearance, as security clearance is mandatory as per rule11C of the Cable TV Networks Rules, 1994 for grant of MSO registration.”

However, the Ministry says that as per rule 11E of the Cable TV Networks Rules 1994, there is a provision to issue provisional registration on preliminary scrutiny of application provided such provisional registration shall not confer any right to the applicant to claim regular registration; and the provisional registration will stand cancelled where regular registration is refused.

Furthermore, the note says those applicants will not be considered for provisional registration whose applications are incomplete, who do not furnish the affidavit and their willingness to obtain provisional registration, who have been denied security clearance earlier, and whose parent and/or subsidiary company(s) has/have been denied security clearance earlier.

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