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TDSAT directs Asianet, Star to sign interconnect agreement on RIO terms

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed multi-system operator (MSO) Asianet Satellite Communications and broadcaster Star India to sign the interconnect agreement based on RIO (reference interconnect offer) terms with effect from 1 April within a week from 31 March.

The tribunal further stated that the MSO’s system would not be disconnected on the midnight of 31 March, which is the deadline to go digital in digital addressable system (DAS) IV areas.

Asianet had moved the TDSAT pleading that Star be directed to execute a subscription agreement on a non-discriminatory basis with effect from 1 January 2017.

It had also sought ad interim ex parte stay of disconnection by the broadcaster of its signals during the pendency of the present proceedings.

Asianet had also wanted the tribunal to determine the amount payable by it to Star for the period beginning 1 January 2017 based on non-discrimination. Furthermore, it had wanted the tribunal to determine the amount payable by it to the broadcaster for the period from 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2016, besides directing Star to pay the petitioner the excess amount paid by it to date.

The tribunal directed Star to file its reply on the issues raised especially with regard to discrimination on the rates between the petitioner and the MSO, as mentioned in the petition, within a week. It also directed the broadcaster to submit a copy of the same to the petitioner. Rejoinder, if any, may be filed within two days thereafter.

The matter has been put up under the same head on 10 April for consideration.

Asianet counsel Navin Chawla stated that, in view of the notification issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) dated 30 March, from the midnight of 31 March all the DAS IV areas would be on digital addressable mode.

He further brought to the tribunal’s notice that there was a grant of permanent MSO registration to the petitioner from the MIB for supply of signals in DAS. He also submitted that their system had been audited by BECIL in 2014 and by the respondent in October 2016.

He also brought to the tribunal’s notice a communication dated 24 March to the Asianet by Star, wherein the former was asked to enter into a written interconnection agreement in terms of DAS regulation or face disconnection.

Star counsel Gopal Jain argued that this petition was not maintainable in view of latest communication from the MIB and that, in the absence of any written interconnection agreement for supply of signals in DAS IV areas, there was the option to the respondent to disconnect the supply of signals to the petitioner.