Independent TV directed to pay up to Rs 12 cr for reconnection of signals by Antrix

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed the direct to home (DTH) operator Independent TV to pay up to Rs 12 crore in order to get signals reconnected by Antrix Corporation.

The tribunal has asked the DTH operator to pay Rs. 5.83 crore along with a bank guarantee of Rs. 6 crore or furnish a bank guarantee of Rs. 12 crore valid for at least two months for the restoration of transponder service.

“As soon as the petitioner complies with this part and furnishes the bank guarantee or makes the payment, of respondent no. 1 shall reconnect the signals,” the TDSAT said in its order.

The DTH operator’s signals were disconnected by Antrix on 12th June due to non-payment of outstanding dues and its bank guarantees worth Rs 15 crore was encashed by the corporation, which is Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm.

Independent TV filed an application before the tribunal to direct Antrix to resume supply of signals. It also sought direction to Antrix to enter into a long-term lease agreement more so since it has now received intimation that it has been granted the required licence by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on certain conditions and the licence is valid till 31st December 2019.

In its argument, the DTH operator contended that the invoiced dues at that stage were only worth Rs. 14.8 crore. The DTH operator further stated that it has written to the MIB to permit it to meet with the requirements of bank guarantee by 6th July. Independent TV is yet to receive a reply to the said letter, which according to learned counsel for MIB, has been received only yesterday.

The tribunal noted that the negotiations and talks for a long-term lease agreement will take some time and for availing signals till the next date, the DTH operator must be put to financial terms so as to secure the payment of latest invoice raised by Antrix towards arrears which are Rs. 5.83 crore.

According to Antrix counsel, the dues for a month of consumption would create a further liability of around Rs. 5 crore and therefore, the DTH operator should either pay the arrears forthwith or furnish bank guarantees for not less than the amounts indicated above i.e. around 11 Crore. According to the submissions, the best case would be to direct the DTH operator to furnish bank guarantee so as to cover the three months of space segment charges.

“Since the main prayer of the petitioner is a direction to Antrix to enter into a long term lease agreement, we direct both the parties to enter into negotiations so that a final decision in this regard may be taken at an early date, preferably within four weeks from the date of resumption of supply of signals,” the TDSAT said in its order.

“It goes without saying that if a long term lease agreement is executed, the respondents will be protected by the financial conditions for the same. In case a long term lease agreement is not executed within the said period, the respondent no. 1 should disclose the reasons through an affidavit to be filed by the next date. Necessary interim orders for payments etc. may be reconsidered on the next date,” it added.

The matter has been posted under the same head on 7th August.


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