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TDSAT pulls up DEN for airing ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ on cable channel sans Star’s permission

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has pulled up multi-system operator (MSO) DEN Networks for allegedly indulging in piracy by airing ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ on its cable channel without permission from rights holder Star India.

The tribunal cautioned and warned DEN to desist from such activities and not to transmit any Star India channels available a la carte on any of its channels.

Any violation of the proviso would cost the MSO monetary and other consequences, the tribunal stated. It also said that Star might file claim for damages against the MSO for allegedly indulging in the piracy of its signals.

The tribunal directed DEN Networks counsel Abhay Chattopadhyay to file its response on the two applications. The matter has been put up for hearing on 3 November.

Star had filed an application alleging that the MSO was indulging in piracy of its Hindi movie channel Star Gold, which had recently premiered Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’.

The broadcaster alleged that Star Gold was available only on a la carte basis on DEN. In order to circumvent the a la carte restriction, the MSO transmitted the movie, without authorisation, on one of its local channels called DEN Cinema, which was available to its entire subscriber base.

At this point, the tribunal referred to an earlier application by the broadcaster, dated 14 October, making similar allegations. Regarding the earlier application, the counsel for the MSO stated that he would take instructions and make a proper response and the matter was fixed for 3 November.

Both the earlier and the present application are supported by screenshots and CDs, the tribunal said.

Noting that DEN counsel Abhay Chattopadhyay was in no position to make any comment on the allegations made in these two applications, the tribunal observed that the MSO was indulging in practices that are not only not sanctioned by law but may even constitute criminal offence.

The tribunal had earlier passed an order on 5 October directing Star to restore the supply of its signals (excepting HD) to the MSO as soon as possible in course of the day.

The resumption of supply of signals was without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the respondent with regard to these applications for interim directions. The tribunal had also directed DEN to make payments of dues along with interest at a rate fixed.

DEN had filed applications against disconnection of the supply of signals by Star due to its failure to make payments in terms of the order passed on 28 September. The tribunal had directed DEN to pay a cumulative sum of Rs 24.5 crore (Rs 245 million) as dues to Star for addressable and non-addressable areas. DEN was directed to pay Rs 4.26 crore (Rs 42.6 million) in dues for non-addressable system by 30 September and Rs 20.21 crore (Rs 202.1 million) by 3 October.