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Hathway reveals subscriber numbers for Zee channels, TDSAT fixes 25 Aug as date for final disposal of cases

MUMBAI: The dispute between Hathway Cable & Datacom on one side and broadcasters Star and Zee-Turner on the other, to be settled by the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate and Tribunal (TDSAT) on 25 August, has thrown up some interesting subscriber declaration numbers by the multi-system operator (MSO).

Hathway has revealed that 2.2 million of its subscribers have taken Zee TV, the Hindi general entertainment flagship channel of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL). Zee Cinema, the second most powerful channel of ZEEL, has had an offtake of 732,418 subscribers while Pogo has had 660,278 subscribers.

Hathway submitted the subscriber report to the TDSAT on the off-take of Zee-owned Taj Television channels since 1 August. The data shows that Zee TV, Zee Cinema and Pogo are the top three most subscribed channels.

Channel and subscribers

Earlier, Hathway had submitted that on average 4.4 million subscribers have taken Star India’s entertainment channels.

Meanwhile, piqued by the routine squabbles between Hathway Cable & Datacom on one side and broadcasters like Star India, Taj Television, and Star Sports on the other, the TDSAT has decided that it has had enough and listed 25 August as the date for final disposal of these cases.

TDSAT chairperson Aftab Alam stated that the final disposal of these cases after hearing all sides at an early date is in the larger interest of both the parties. He also noted that the disputes are affecting a large number of people in viewing their favourite TV channels.

Alam stated that the disputants are approaching the tribunal on a weekly basis complaining against each other and seeking some interim directions, thus consuming a lot of time on arguments on miscellaneous applications.

He further noted that “these cases arise from a deep-rooted dispute between two of the major broadcasters on the one side and a large MSO on the other side”.

The dispute, Alam added, has arisen at a stage when the earlier fixed-fee agreement between the parties has come to end and they are unable to come to terms for a fresh agreement, and under the circumstances, the MSO has no option but to take the broadcasters’ channels on their RIO terms.

The resolution of the dispute would require interpretation of certain clauses of some of the statutory regulations, the TDSAT chairman averred.

Expressing his displeasure, Alam bemoaned the fact that the dispute between the two sides is playing out in an aggressive and a rather unpleasant manner.

Noting that the three petitions filed by Star Sports, Star India and Taj Television raise the same issue, the tribunal has clubbed the three petitions and has listed them for final disposal on priority basis on 25 August. The tribunal has also made it known that the date of hearing is fixed with the consent of all concerned.

In order to complete the pleadings, the tribunal has directed the respondents to file their respective replies in petitions numbers 319(C) of 2014 and 47(C) of 2014 by 20 August 2014.

In case the petitioner wishes to file a rejoinder, it should serve the other side a copy of the rejoinder by 23 August, subject to which it may file the rejoinder on 25 August.

Star India is the respondent in petition number 319(C) of 2014 while Hathway is the petitioner. In petition number 47(C) of 2014, Hathway is the respondent while Star Sports is the petitioner.

In the meantime, both sides have assured the tribunal that they would avoid issuing the offensive advertisements against each other.

Also read:

Zee’s Taj Television agrees to withdraw scrolls against Hathway

Zee’s Taj Television builds pressure on Hathway via public notices

Zee, Turner channels go a la carte on Hathway Cable

Hathway declares 4.4 mn subscribers for Star’s entertainment channels

Hathway Cable to pay Rs 27 CPS for all Star India channels till final order: TDSAT

Hathway and Star Sports agree to sign RIO agreement