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TDSAT once more directs Telangana MSOs to start carrying TV9

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed multi-system operators (MSOs) Siti Vision Digital Media, Hathway Cable & Datacom, Maruthi Communications, and Sri Surya Cable Network to start carrying ABCPL’s (Associated Broadcasting Co Pvt Ltd) channel TV9 on their networks.

The tribunal also directed the news broadcaster to file an undertaking that its channel shall strictly abide by the Programme Code and the Advertisement Code under Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 and further that it shall not make any false and malicious references to the state of Telangana, or its people or its government or its elected representatives.

Subject to the filing of the undertaking, TDSAT directed the MSOs to carry the petitioner’s channel on air, the tribunal said in its order while disposing of ABCPL’s petition.

ABCPL’s Telugu news channel TV9, along with ABN Andhra Jyothi, was blocked by MSOs in Telangana for allegedly insulting the Telangana people and its elected representatives.

The tribunal also clarified that the order will not come in the way of the proceedings before the Privilege Committee of the Telangana Assembly in any way, nor shall it stand in the way of the competent authority to take legal action against the news broadcaster under section 19 of the regulations or any other relevant provision of the law.

While passing its order, the tribunal noted that the TV9 programme broadcast on 12 June 2014 was highly defamatory of the elected chief minister of the state and it naturally aroused public passions and led to serious law and order problems. As a result, all the MSOs and LCOs stopped carrying any programmes of the petitioner.

The broadcaster had filed a petition against Siti Vision for blocking its channel. The tribunal had disposed of that petition after giving full protection to the personnel and properties of Siti Vision and ensuring that no untoward incident takes place as a result of the broadcast of TV9.

Following this order, Siti Vision started transmission of the TV9 channel on 3 September. However, the MSO took the channel off air after it started receiving threatening calls.

This led ABCPL to file the present execution application along with a fresh petition against Hathway, Maruthi Communications, and Sri Surya Cable Network besides the Union of India through I&B secretary and Telangana home secretary.

MIB counsel K Parameshwar submitted that the Union of India had made its stand very clear at the time of the hearing of the earlier case. He further stated that after the passing of the orders by the tribunal, the I&B secretary wrote a letter to the Telangana chief secretary on 16 September 2014 referring to the tribunal’s order and asking the chief secretary to issue necessary directions to the parties concerned so that the orders were complied with immediately.

Telangana Additional Advocate General Rama Chandra Rao stated that though the matter is before the Privilege Committee of the Telangana Assembly, it has so far not passed any interim or final order in the matter. He also accepted that, so far, no proceeding has been initiated against the news broadcaster either under section 19 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 or under any other law and there is no order by any competent authority prohibiting the broadcast of the channel of the petitioner.

He also stated that the state of Telangana would do all that is required in law to provide sufficient security to the MSOs and LCOs in case of any threat of violence as long as the broadcaster does not violate any law or it does not make any defamatory references to the state of Telangana, its people, its government and its elected representatives.

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TDSAT directs Telangana govt to ensure security of MSO for restoring TV9 signal