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TDSAT: Taj TV takes same stance as Star’s in NSTPL case

MUMBAI: Taking a position similar to that of Star India, ZEEL’s distribution arm Taj Television has told the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that it will not insist on the payment of licence fee from Noida Software Technology Park Ltd (NSTPL), which runs HITS service under JAINHITS brand, until the finalisation of the matter.

Earlier, Star India had stated that it would not insist on payment of any licence fee on interim or ad hoc basis from 1 October 2015 until the finalisation of the matter on 31 March 2016 and that it would continue supplying its signals to the petitioner (NSTPL) subject to the payment of its dues up to 30 September 2015.

Taj Television counsel Tejveer Singh Bhatia stated that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had already issued a consultation paper for revision of interconnect regulations as well as the tariff orders, apparently in pursuance of the observations made in the TDSAT judgment.

Bhatia submitted that Taj and Zee, under these circumstances, would take the same stand as that taken by Star and as recorded in the order dated 29 January 2016.

Objecting to this, NSTPL counsel Vivek Chib requested that the three sides be directed to comply with the earlier direction of the tribunal passed on 18 December 2015.

The tribunal put up the matter under the same head on 16 February 2016 when it would hear Chib and the counsel for the other side. It also said that Chib was open to file an additional affidavit bringing on record any relevant materials.

The tribunal had on 18 December 2015 directed the NSTPL to pay Rs 1.69 crore (Rs 16.9 million) to Star India as liability until 30 September 2015 and Rs 58.24 lakh (Rs 5.82 million) to Taj Television as liability until 30 June 2015 by 31 January 2016.

Further, it directed both Star and Taj to file the details of their interconnection arrangements with three pan-India MSOs, namely DEN, Hathway and Siti before the tribunal. Based on these details the tribunal would determine the amount the petitioner may be required to pay to the two broadcasters from 1 July 2015 in case of Taj and from 1 October 2015 in case of Star until the matter attained finality in terms of the judgment pronounced on 17 December 2015.

Both the order dated 17 December 2015 and the interim order passed on 18 December 2015 were challenged before the Delhi High Court by Star. On 22 January 2016, the Delhi HC dismissed Star’s writ petition as unmaintainable, because the broadcaster had a remedy available in terms of Section 18 of the TRAI Act.

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