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TDSAT directs Telangana govt to file affidavit to ensure transmission of TV9
MUMBAI: Noting that its earlier assurance has remained only on paper, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed Telangana Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Ramachandra Rao to file an affidavit affirming that it will ensure smooth transmission of Associated Broadcasting Co Pvt Ltd’s (ABCPL) Telugu news channel TV9.
The tribunal said that as long as TV9 abides by the Programme Code and the Advertisement Code as prescribed under Rules 6 and 7 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 and as long as it does not indulge in making any false and malicious references to the state of Telangana or its people or its government or its elected representatives, the state shall ensure the smooth broadcast of the channel by the MSOs.
The tribunal has also asked the ASG to incorporate the contents of the letter dated 25 October in which the Telangana chief secretary directed the DG of state police to provide full protection to the personnel and properties of Siti Vision and Hathway Cable, who are also the respondents in the case.
The Telangana government has been asked to file the affidavit by 5 November.
The Solicitor General of India had suggested to the TDSAT that the Telangana government must file an affidavit as no state government would like itself to be seen in breach of an affidavit filed by it in a court/tribunal and would feel obliged to act in accordance with the directions given by the tribunal.
The SGI was present in the TDSAT following a request made by the tribunal through its order dated 14 October, whereby it had also asked the government to take the extreme step of cancelling licences of all MSOs in Telangana as its orders were not being complied with.
While directing the MSOs to resume the broadcast of TV9 within a week, the tribunal has also asked MSOs to intimate the DG of Telangana police and Hyderabad’s police commissioner of the date and time when they will resume the broadcast of the petitioner’s channel.
The tribunal has also asked TV9 and respondent MSOs to give wide publicity to this order through print and the electronic media. The publicity given to this order should allay the misgivings of the MSOs.
The matter has been put up under the same heading on 7 November at 2:30 p.m.
The Solicitor General expressed regret that the assurance given by the Additional Advocate General (AAG) was not matched by any robust action and the assurance given by the AAG had remained mere words on a piece of a paper.
The Telangana government, represented by ASG Ramachandra Rao, said that the state government has taken steps to provide full protection to the MSOs, who should resume the broadcast of the petitioner’s channel as directed by the tribunal.
He also produced the letter dated 25 October from the chief secretary to the DG of police to provide security to MSOs for resuming transmission of TV9.
At this stage, Hathway Cable counsel Jayant Mehta and Siti Vision counsel Tejveer Singh Bhatia submitted that the letter produced by the AAG is from one office to another office and would be lying in some official file unbeknown to the general public.
They submitted that even if the officers concerned were sincere in following the directions contained in the letter, they will come to the MSOs’ rescue only after the MSOs had suffered damages at the hands of the unruly mob that continues to believe in the political sanction to ‘punish’ any MSO broadcasting the petitioner’s channel.
The Hathway counsel also submitted that the state government ought to issue a public notice or a press release warning against any use of violence against any MSO for broadcasting the petitioner’s channel, making its intent clear and well known to all concerned. This will help the MSOs to resume the broadcast of the petitioner’s channel without any apprehension of violence.