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Zee’s Taj Television agrees to withdraw scrolls against Hathway
MUMBAI: Taj Television, the distribution arm of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), has agreed to withdraw the scrolls it was running on its channels against Hathway Cable & Datacom, following a grievance application filed by the multi-system operator (MSO) in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
In its application, Hathway had raised some grievances with regard to certain advertisements and scrolls being shown on the Zee channels. Besides running scrolls on its channels, Taj Television had issued ads in leading dailies asking Hathway subscribers to question the service provider why Zee and Turner channels have been put on à la carte.
Taj Television’s counsel Prathiba M Singh told the tribunal that the scrolls would be withdrawn. She also invited Hathway counsel Arun Kathpalia to have a discussion regarding any grievances that Hathway may have in connection with the advertisements.
However, she further stated that Taj Television intends to file a miscellaneous application for a recall or modification of the order passed on 1 August in which the tribunal had directed Taj Television to restore signals to Hathway networks while also allowing the MSO to put Taj bouquet of channels on à la carte.
The tribunal had also asked Hathway to clear Taj Television’s outstanding dues at the rate of Rs 21.60 per subscriber for the period April to July, subject to adjustments at a later stage. This would include the Zee (excluding sports) and Turner group of channels.
The tribunal bench comprising Justice Aftab Alam and Kuldip Singh stated that the order dated 1 August was passed after hearing both sides at length and expressed surprise that an application is proposed to be filed for a recall/modification of the order even before their signatures on the order have fully dried.
The tribunal further added that the reason stated for filing the application is even more surprising. “It is stated that on that date, the local people at Taj Television and the counsel representing it were not fully posted with the facts, especially in regard to the placement agreements between the two sides,” the tribunal observed.
However, the bench did not stop at that. It also lamented the way in which both Taj Television and Hathway were squabbling with each other.
“At this stage, we feel constrained to put on record our deep displeasure over the manner in which both sides are sniping and chipping at each other giving rise to completely futile litigations,” the bench stated.
“Having regard to the amounts of revenue that is generated by the broadcasting industry, the vast social space occupied by it and the social role it claims to play, one should have expected the two sides, each of them major players in the industry, to act responsibly and show a modicum of restraint in their dealings with each other, but they seem to be freely indulging in unseemly squabbles.”
The bench further stated that “what is more, they seem to show no regard, much less any respect, for the proprieties of judicial proceedings”.
It also stated that no party can be stopped from filing an application and therefore Taj Television is free to file its MA which may be taken up along with the MA filed by Hathway on 13 August. However, the bench has directed that the top people from both sides should also be present before the tribunal in person on that date.