Regulators

TDSAT 'no' to stay Star Bharat launch, DPO payments subject to adjudication

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NEW DELHI: Even as it declined to stay or restrain the launch of Life OK channel as Star Bharat, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) yesterday said the amounts paid to the distribution platform operators or DPOs will be subject to the final orders of the tribunal.

The bench, comprising TDSAT chairman Shiva Keerti Singh and members B B Srivastava and A K Bhargava, observed that the agreements between broadcaster Star India and DPOs Dish TV and Videocon d2h (both entities in the process of merging) will continue to operate and the cost being offered by the broadcaster cannot be reduced unilaterally.

While Star India was given four weeks to reply, the two DTH platforms were asked to file their counter-affidavits too. Thus, the next hearing may come up some time in October 2017.

The tribunal said if it is proved that the presence of Star Bharat on Prasar Bharati’s free to air DTH platform FreeDish is tantamount to the channel’s conversion from pay to FTA, then both Dish TV and Videocon d2h will be entitled a refund from Star.

Star India had contended that merely making a channel available on FreeDish platform does not tantamount to a conversion in the nature of the channel for which the DPOs are being charged.

Dish TV and Videocon d2h had moved the tribunal earlier this week alleging that Star India was converting its pay channel Life OK into a FTA network by putting the rebranded channel (Star Bharat) on FreeDish platform without informing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). In its defense before the court, Star India responded by saying that “we are only rebranding” and not “converting our pay channel” into FTA.

Interestingly, this petition came just two days after Essel/Zee Group’s Dish TV had sent a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Indian cricket board BCCI, TRAI and monopoly watchdog Competition Commission of India. In the letter Dish MD Jawahar Goel had alleged that Star was trying to create a monopoly over cricket broadcast rights in the country, a move that would be detrimental for all stakeholders, including consumers who would ultimately dish out more subscription money to watch cricket on telly.

To buttress his arrangements, Goel had contended that Star had even challenged rge sector regulator TRAI’s jurisdiction to fix tariff charges --- a case that’s pending before the Madras High Court.

ALSO READ:

Dish TV moves TDSAT against Star Life OK name change & turning FTA

Dish TV shoots off letter to IBF; alleges discrimination by b’casters, OTT platforms

Jawahar Goel raises alarm of emerging Star cricket monopoly (updated)

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