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ZEEL, Ortel fight it out in TDSAT over subscription dues

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal ( TDSAT) on 9 February directed multi-system operator (MSO) Ortel Communications to pay Rs 2 crore immediately to broadcaster ZEEL for re-instatement of signals.

Zee_Entertainment_Enterprises-techZEEL will have to reconnect the signals of its channels along with those of Turner International and Zee Media following the payment.

Ortel had moved the TDSAT after ZEEL disconnected signals of its channels in the night intervening 5 and 6 February. ZEEL had issued a disconnection notice dated 14 January asking Ortel to clear the outstanding of Rs 6.71 crore.

Ortel counsel Navin Chawla in his submissions stated that an amount of Rs 25.37 lakh requires reconciliation. He also submitted that, after considering this amount, the MSO is willing to pay the balance amount of Rs 6.45 crore in four tranches.

The MSO had agreed to pay Rs 2 crore immediately, followed by a payment of Rs 50 lakh by the end of this month. Another Rs 1.5 crore is to be paid by 31 March. The remaining Rs 2.45 crore is to be paid by a cheque dated 30 March to be encashed on 30 April.

OrtelThe bench of Justices BB Srivastava and AK Bhargava noted that the matter can proceed further if the MSO pays according to the submissions made by Chawla, and subject to payment of Rs 2 crore, immediately the signals of all three respondents would be reconnected.

It also said that it is not considering the issue of non-subscription of channels of ZEEL as it would like to have the reply of the broadcaster as well as the rejoinder of Ortel on this issue before passing any order in this regard.

ZEEL counsel Meet Malhotra in his submissions drew the tribunal’s attention to an MoU signed between the two parties on 26 October 2016.

He submitted that as per MoU, Rs 5.20 crore was to be paid through 18 post-dated cheques. However, despite an undertaking that in the event of dishonouring of any of the above 18 PDCs, the broadcaster will be free to switch off all Zee Group channels, sports channels and Turner channels.

He submitted that only Rs 2.25 crore was received by the broadcaster against this MoU.

The tribunal directed the broadcasters to file their reply to the petition including the issue mentioned above, within two weeks from today. Rejoinder, if any, may be f iled within a week thereafter.

It also made it clear that the aforesaid payments need to be without prejudice to the rights and contentions of either party and they are free to reconcile the amount mentioned by the counsel for the MSO. It further clarified that monthly subscription fee as per the existing subscription agreement will continue to be paid.