MSO Asianet moves Delhi HC as Star switches off signals

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MUMBAI: The row over the renewal of content deal between broadcaster Star India and multi system operator (MSO) Asianet Digital Networks has escalated with the former switching off signals on 8 June.

Incidentally, the broadcaster switched off the signal even as the Delhi High Court had on 1 June put in place an interim arrangement between the parties.

“Dear subscribers, violating the order of Hon’ble Delhi High Court dated 1.6.2018, Star India has deactivated the channels. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused. We will take necessary steps to approach the Hon’ble High Court to restore justice for our subscribers. Request your cooperation,” Asianet has said in a message to its subscribers.

According to a source in Asianet, the company has moved Delhi HC against the switching off of the signals by Star. Star India officials were not available for comment till the time of filing this report.

Asianet had moved Delhi High Court against Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal’s (TDSAT) 23rd May order directing the two to execute a reference interconnect offer (RIO) agreement within seven days.

The tribunal passed the order after the Delhi High Court had set aside its interim order dated 18 April and directed it to decide on the arrangement between the parties at the earliest.

In its 1 June order, the HC had said that the MSO can continue to avail the signals provided by Star India upon payment of Rs 2.5 crore per month.

The two-member bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla had ordered Asianet to pay the arrears constituting the difference between what was payable under the old regime and what is to be payable on the basis of the present understanding for the months of April and May to Star India within 60 days from today.

The order, the bench noted, is without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties. All rights of Asianet to urge its grounds challenging the terms are therefore reserved. Star India too would not be precluded from urging any contention before TDSAT.

During the course of the hearing, the learned Senior Counsel for Asianet Digital Networks and Asianet Satellite Communications submitted that without prejudice to its rights, the amount demanded as a monthly subscription by Star India would be paid as a purely interim arrangement to ensure that the access to services is not denied to its subscribers.

Having regard to the submissions, learned Senior Counsel for Star India after obtaining instructions submitted that it is agreeable to such proposal.

The HC had also asked the TDSAT to complete hearing and render its final decision on the pending petitions before it expeditiously, preferably within six months.

At the heart of the dispute between the two parties is the issue of parity. Asianet Digital Network wants Star India to renew/execute a fixed sum subscription fees agreement from 1 April on non-discriminatory and reasonable rates in comparison to another MSO Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd (KCCL).

The previous agreement between the parties had expired on 31 March.


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