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Taj TV not to disconnect DEN provided latter clears dues, orders TDSAT

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed Taj Television not to disconnect signals to DEN Networks and its subsidiaries until the next hearing, provided they pay Rs 13.11 crore (Rs 131.1 million) as dues for digital addressable system (DAS) and non-DAS areas.

DEN was to make a payment of Rs 9.74 crore (Rs 97.4 million) for DAS areas for August 2015 and Rs 3.36 crore (Rs 33.6 million) for non-DAS areas for the month of September 2015. These payments were to be made by 30 November.

The tribunal also made it clear that these payments are on-account payments and without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties.

It also stated that if any payments were delayed in terms of the agreement, the MSO would be liable to pay interest as may be determined by the tribunal.

The matter has been put up for further orders on 8 December.

Taj Television claimed that there is an outstanding of Rs 42.03 crore (Rs 420.3 million) as on 17 November, taking into account the billing for DAS until October 2015 and non-DAS until November 2015.

This amount includes Rs 6.63 crore (Rs 66.3 million), which as per the MSO is in dispute. But according to the distributor, the same is admitted as due by the MSO.

The outstanding amount includes billing for DAS area of Rs 9.74 crore (Rs 97.4 million) for the month of August 2015 and Rs 10.11 crore (Rs 101.1 million) for September 2015.

It also includes billing of Rs 3.36 crore (Rs 33.6 million) for non-DAS area for October 2015 and Rs 2.42 crore (Rs 24.2 million) for non-DAS area for November 2015 and a provisional payment of Rs 9.75 crore (Rs 97.5 million) for the DAS area for October 2015.

DEN counsel Navin Chawla stated that a 60 days’ credit period from the date of payment as mentioned in the invoice was agreed between the parties for both DAS and non-DAS areas. This claim was strongly contested by Taj Television counsel Aman Lekhi.

According to Lekhi, there is no such stipulation in the agreement that was executed between the parties and has since expired on 31 March and the communication referred to by the DEN counsel is prior to that date.

As per Chawla, the communication vide which these terms were mentioned, was issued on 6 February by the Taj Television CEO and was prior to the signing of the agreement which was executed on 2 March.

The tribunal noted that the letter by the distributor mentions that though the main agreement will have a standard ‘same month’ payment term, a side letter will be given allowing credit of 60 days as an exception to DEN.

Lekhi said that the agreement being subsequent and not containing any stipulation of credit will alone bind the parties, that no agreement in terms of this email was ever executed, and that DEN ADN and DEN are two separate entities with distinct agreements with the distributor.

Chawla insisted that the side letter form part of the agreement and further, the letter dated 11 February clearly states that the DEN deal will be on the same terms and conditions as DEN ADN.