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TDSAT directs Star, Siti Cable to appear in Mediation Centre for account reconciliation

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed broadcaster Star India and multi-system operator (MSO) Siti Cable to appear before the Mediation Centre on 16 March for reconciliation of accounts to calculate the outstanding dues owed by the MSO.

The tribunal has appointed chartered accountant Rohit Vaswani as a neutral overseer of the reconciliation of accounts of the two parties.

The tribunal also said that Vaswani should be paid an honorarium of Rs 50,000 to be shared equally by the two sides. The reconciliation of accounts will have to be completed by 23 March.

The tribunal further stated that reconciliation of accounts would be made based on the rates stipulated in the previous agreements between the parties.

Following the reconciliation, if need be, Star will issue fresh invoices to the petitioner by 26 March. Siti Cable will have to make full payment of the invoiced amount by 31 March or by such time as may be accepted by the respondent on terms mutually agreed by the parties.

“As the reconciliation of accounts is directed to be made on the basis of the rates stipulated in the previous agreements, it is made clear that payments will be without prejudice to the rights and contentions of either side and will abide by the final decision of the Tribunal in respect of the rate of monthly subscription for the interregnum period,” the tribunal said in its order.

The tribunal disposed of the miscellaneous application, stating that Siti Cable had not made any payment beyond the sum of Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) in pursuance of the order dated 27 January despite invoices being repeatedly served upon it.

Star claims that Siti Cable still owes Rs 16.45 crore (Rs 164.5 million), which it is not paying on some pretext or the other and is trying to raise unfounded objections to the invoices.

Ramji Srinivasan, the advocate appearing for the petitioner, accepted that the petitioner owes certain dues to the respondent for the period in question. However, he also maintained that the dues stand at Rs 11 crore (Rs 110 million) approximately and that after TDS, the petitioner would be liable to pay a sum of around Rs 9 crore (Rs 90 million) to the respondent.

The tribunal directed Siti Cable to make another on-account payment of Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) to Star by 13 March.

Earlier, Siti Cable had moved the TDSAT against the disconnection notice issued by Star for non-payment of subscription fees amounting to Rs 26.45 crore (Rs 264.5 million).

The dues pertain to the digital addressable system (DAS) areas and relate to the interim period between the expiry of the earlier interconnect agreement between the parties and the execution of the fresh RIO-based agreement on 10 November.