Delhi HC grants two weeks time to Asianet to sign agreement with Star

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has granted two weeks time to multi system operator (MSO) Asianet Digital Networks to sign the content deal with Star India.

“The appellants (Asianet) shall be granted two weeks to sign the offer with Star India,” the HC said in an order on 6 July.

The bench of Justices Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla opined that in the event the MSO enters into an agreement with all the conditions that it is offered, it would still be open to it to challenge any of the terms, including placement of the channel.

“The rights and contentions of the parties, to urge their submissions in this regard as to the legality of the action of Star India, are kept open,” the order stated.

Star India had filed applications seeking modification of the order dated 1 June which had disposed of the appeal.

The broadcaster argued that the MSO is seeking to take advantage of the order and not signing the agreement – which was implicit, though not expressly spelt out, for the continuation of the signals by the applicant upon payment of Rs 2.5 crore per month as a purely interim measure.

The previous arrangement between Star and Asianet was based upon a negotiated agreement.

Star said that since it insisted upon the signing of such agreement the MSO approached this Court in contempt proceedings, which were disposed of on a statement that the signals would be provided without prejudice to the contentions of the parties.

In the order dated 1 June, the court had directed Asianet to enter into an agreement with Star and pay Rs 2.5 crore per month, without prejudice to its rights and contentions.

The bench noted that the issue of placement of a channel had not come up at that stage.

Asianet counsel Jayant Bhushan argued that the signing of the agreement would preclude the challenge to the terms, especially with respect to the controversy over the question of discrimination.

Bhushan also contended that for the placement of a channel, which is insisted upon by Star India, certain signals are to be placed in a particular order, thus, impinging on the autonomy of the MSO and its existing commitment with other parties.