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TDSAT pulls up MIB, impleads IBF in case related to Arasu Cable signals in DAS areas

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has pulled up the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in the parity issue case filed by Chennai-based independent multi-system operator (MSO) Thamizhaga Cable TV Communication (TCCL), which relates to signals retransmitted by state-owned Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation in the digital addressable system (DAS) areas of Chennai.

In a strongly worded order, TDSAT has directed the MIB to file a proper application by 28 August. The tribunal has also impleaded the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) as respondent No. 4 in the case, while other broadcasters may also appear in the proceeding separately.

TDSAT had made MIB a respondent in the case and had asked for its views. However, MIB sent an undated note via a section officer Surender Kumar, under the heading ‘The comments of the MIB in the matter of Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd’. The tribunal took a strong stance of not accepting the response.

“The MIB, which by the previous order was directed to be impleaded as respondent No 3 in this petition, has adopted a strange and unprecedented course by sending a note to the tribunal through a messenger.  We decline to take cognizance of the note or to accept it on record of the case.  Let it be handed back to the section officer,” the TDSAT bench headed by chairman justice Aftab Alam and members Kuldip Singh and BB Srivastava observed.

Further, it ordered that the MIB may appear before the TDSAT, either through an officer sufficiently senior, or through a lawyer who may be able to engage in the proceedings and present the ministry’s case before the tribunal.

“Also, any statement on behalf of the Ministry must be filed as a petition or application with proper verification and affidavit, as required by the tribunal’s rules or procedure,” the order read.

In its order dated 14 August, the TDSAT also asked other broadcasters, apart from Star India, to come forward before it and state whether or not their channels are being re-transmitted by Arasu Cable in the city of Chennai in analogue mode.

“In case their channels are being retransmitted in the city of Chennai by Arasu Cable in analogue mode, they would be required to explain how and under what provision of law they are giving their signals to Arasu Cable.  In such case, they would also state whether or not they are receiving any monthly subscription fee from TACTV for retransmission of their channels in the city of Chennai,” TDSAT said in its order.

The case dates back to 10 November 2014. TCCL had moved the TDSAT demanding parity from broadcaster Star India in line with Arasu. Earlier, the tribunal had impleaded MIB and Arasu in the case.

The case is listed for hearing on 2 September.

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