TDSAT adjourns Free Dish slot sale case to 29 Jan

MUMBAI: The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has adjourned the Prasar Bharati vs Cinema 24×7 matter to 29 January after the pubcaster told the tribunal that it is close to finalising the policy decision on selling slots on its free direct to home (DTH) platform Free Dish.

“From the submissions made on behalf of Prasar Bharti, it appears that a policy decision is likely to be finalised soon. As prayed, post the matter under the same head on 29th January 2019. The interim order passed earlier shall continue till the next date,” the TDSAT said in its order.

Cinema 24×7 had moved TDSAT in September 2017 against DD’s decision to call-off slot auction without coming up with an alternative plan to allow existing channels to continue on Free Dish. Subsequently, other broadcasters whose contracts had ended or were about to end also impleaded themselves in the matter.

The broadcasters have argued that DD can allow channels to continue on Free Dish on a pro-rata basis. They also contended that the DD’s decision amounts to discrimination as it has earlier granted continuity to channels on a pro-rata basis.

After hearing all the parties, the tribunal came up with an interim arrangement under which channels whose contract has ended or others similarly situated as them should be allowed continuity on pro-rata basis if they need continuity because of non-holding of the e-auction and have applied or applied for the same.

It had also stated that the pubcaster will be entitled to charge on a pro-rata basis either on the basis of the highest bid amount or the reserved price whichever is higher. The highest bid amount would mean the highest bid in that category in the preceding year.

The arrangement will come to end as soon the Central Government declares its new general policy and take steps to fill up the slots in accordance with such policy. It is clarified that it will not be open for any petitioner or other operators to claim any right to continue on the basis of such an interim arrangement.