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TDSAT directs Tamil Nadu MSO to clear Neo Sports’ dues

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed Tamil Nadu-based independent multi-system operator (MSO)  Akash Cable to pay Rs 3.97 million (Rs 39.7 lakh), along with interest of Rs 1.46 million (Rs 14.6 lakh), to sportscaster Neo Sports Broadcast as outstanding dues.

The MSO will also have to pay interest at 10 per cent from the date of filing of the petition and till the payment is made.

The case dates back to 2011 when Neo Sports had filed a petition against Akash Cable for recovery of subscription fees along with interest. The two parties had signed 12 interconnection agreements whereby the MSO carried Neo Sports Broadcast’s Neo Sports and Neo Cricket on its network.

The dispute between the two parties pertains to the period from 31 August 2009 to 28 June 2010.

According to Akash Cable, the agreements expired after one year and it stopped taking signals of Neo Sports and Neo Cricket from 31 August 2009. It also asserted that it had returned the integrated receiver decoder (IRD) boxes to the broadcaster.

The MSO also said that it had written a letter to the sportscaster on 1 June 2009 requesting it to deactivate its IRD boxes. The respondent said that it had handed over IRD boxes to the channel distributor’s office in Madurai.

Neo Sports Broadcast, however, argued that the relationship between the parties continued even after the agreement expired.

The sportscaster also insisted that as per a clause in the agreement, Akash Cable was required to pay subscription fee on the same terms and conditions if the signals are continued even after the expiry of the agreement.

The agreement expired on 21 November 2008 and after that there was no renewal of agreement.

The tribunal, however, noted that the sportscaster was providing signals of its channels to the MSO even after the expiry of the agreement.

Relying on the statement of account filed by the sportscaster, the tribunal observed that payments for invoices were being made regularly by the MSO till as late as April 2010 which was also admitted by S Sarvanan, Akash Cable’s sole proprietor.

The tribunal ruled that the respondent had received the signals of the petitioner till June 2010 on the basis of understanding reached between them.

As per the statement of account, the outstanding as on 15 April 2011 is Rs 3.97 million (Rs 39.65 lakh) and interest is Rs 1.47 (Rs 14.67 lakh) since the agreement stated that an interest of 24 per cent is to be paid on delayed payments.