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Dish TV, Times Global spar over non-signing of deal and outstanding dues

MUMBAI: Direct-to-home (DTH) operator Dish TV and broadcaster Times Global Broadcasting Company have got embroiled in a legal battle over the renewal of agreement and outstanding dues.

The dispute began with Times Global Broadcasting Company, handling channels like Times Now, ET Now, Zoom and Movies Now, serving Dish TV a disconnection notice for non-renewal of agreement and non-payment of subscription fee dues to the tune of Rs 8.5 crore (Rs 85 million).

dish-tvDish TV moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against the disconnect notice and got it stayed. The DTH operator made a counter claim that the broadcaster owed it Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) in carriage fee dues.

The tribunal while directing Times Global not to disconnect signals stated that it would decide on an equitable arrangement after hearing both the parties based on the pleadings. The matter was then put up under the head for directions on 1 August.

While admitting Dish TV’s petition, the tribunal also directed the broadcaster to file a reply within three weeks to the notice. Rejoinder, if any, can be filed in two weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of the reply.

Dish TV and Times Global Broadcasting had separate subscription and carriage fee agreements that ended in end 2014 and mid-2015 respectively. Since then the two parties have been in negotiations for renewing the deal.

TIMES-NETWORK-cover01As per the deal, Dish TV was to pay subscription fee for Times Now and Zoom to Times Global, while the broadcaster was to pay carriage fee for ET Now, Movies Now and Romedy Now to the DTH operator.

With almost a year passing since the end of the last agreement, Times Global asked Dish TV to pay subscription fee dues for all the five channels. It also made it clear to Dish TV that it did not intend to continue with the carriage fee agreement.

Dish TV made a counter claim of Rs 10 crore as carriage fee dues against the broadcaster, arguing that the terms of the expired agreement would continue until the signing of a new deal.

It relied on the TDSAT judgment in the Hathway Cable & Datacom vs Star India/Taj TV case in which the tribunal had ruled that the terms of the existing agreement would be applicable for the period between the expiry of the existing agreement and the signing of the new agreement.

Dish TV further argued that the TDSAT had asked for maintaining parity between different distribution platforms in the NSTPL vs Media Pro case and, therefore, it follows that broadcasters should pay carriage fee to DTH operators since they pay carriage fee to multi-system operators (MSOs).

In its argument, Times Global stated that the carriage fee was not payable since the carriage agreement had expired. It argued that subscription agreement could be continued by the force of law while the same was not the case with carriage agreement.