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TDSAT directs AP MSOs to restore Telugu news channel NTV’s transmission

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed Andhra Pradesh-based multi-system operators (MSOs) like Master Channel Community, Siti Guntur Digital, Vizianagaram Citi and Sree Devi Digital to restore transmission of Rachna Television-owned Telugu news channel NTV, or to explain the allegations made against them by the petitioner by the next date.

The tribunal also said that any violation of the interim order would be viewed seriously and entail penal consequences under the law.

Rachana Television had moved the TDSAT over its blackout by cable operators in Andhra Pradesh, allegedly at the behest of the ruling Telugu Desam Party, for airing a sting operation in which AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was heard assuring Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MLA Elvis Stephenson of honouring the commitments given by his envoys if he voted for TDP candidate in the legislative council elections.

The broadcaster alleged that the four MSOs had taken its channel off air on 16 June not only in contravention of their agreements with the petitioner, but also in complete violation of the provisions of the regulations.

Seeking interim direction to the MSOs, Rachna pleaded that every single day the blackout is causing immense loss to it. The matter has been put up under the same heading on 18 August.

Earlier, the broadcaster had filed an affidavit stating that notices were duly tendered to each of the parties impleaded as respondent but they refused to accept the notices. It further stated that additionally notices were sent to each of them through Speed Post.

In view of the statement made in the affidavit, the tribunal said that the service of notice might be accepted as valid on the parties impleaded as respondents, namely Master Channel Community, Siti Guntur Digital, Vizianagaram Citi and Sree Devi Digital.

In the affidavit, it is also stated that notice has also been served on the Union of India (UOI) and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB).

​Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) counsel Waize Ali Noor said that the authority had been unnecessarily impleaded in this case.

Andhra Pradesh government counsel Prerna Singh stated that the state government had not given any direction with regard to the transmission of the broadcaster’s signals by different distributors of channels and that the Andhra Pradesh and its officials had no concern in the matter.

Parul Bose, who had instructions to appear on behalf of Rajarajeshwari Entertainment and ACN Cable, stated that she was not in a position to say whether the petitioner’s channel was taken off the air by the MSOs.

She also said that she was not in a position to say when it had been switched on again. However, she stated that as of now the broadcaster’s channel was being duly retransmitted in the networks of the MSOs.

Despite notices, no one appeared on behalf of Master Channel Community, Siti Guntur Digital, Vizianagaram Citi and Sree Devi Digital.