TDSAT allows Kapil Sibal’s English news channel to use ‘Harvest TV’ name till MIB decides on name change application

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has allowed Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s English news channel to use the ‘Harvest TV’ till the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) takes a decision on the channel’s change of name application.

Veecon Media and Broadcasting launched an English news channel Harvest TV on 26th January. Sibal is funding the channel which has roped in senior journalists like Barkha Dutt, Karan Thapar, and Punya Prasun Bajpayi among others.

On 29th January, the channel had received show-cause notices from the MIB in respect of its shareholding as well as the use of the name ‘Harvest TV’. The company moved TDSAT against the show cause notices issued by the MIB.

The tribunal has granted 10 days’ time to the MIB to file a reply. Rejoinder, if any, may be filed within 10 days thereafter.

Veecon counsel Amit Sibal submitted that the notice supports the apprehension of the broadcaster that there may be strong efforts to prevent it from using the name ‘Harvest TV’ and on that account may be prevented from running its TV channel under that name.

He further submitted that in the Show Cause Notice, the MIB has not taken note of Veecon’s application filed for a change of name and logo of its channel to ‘Tiranga TV’. The application was filed on 26th September 2017 followed by a recent representation on 18th January 2019.

He further submitted that not only filing of this petition for change of name and logo has been ignored while issuing the aforesaid notice, there are certain assertions which indicate that the ministry has proceeded to accept the claim of one Bibi George Chacko that he had authorised Veecon to use the name and logo ‘Harvest TV’ only for two years and that period had expired on 31st January 2018.

Veecon has denied the claim and stated that Chacko can get the issue decided only through an appropriate court or authority and cannot use the office of MIB for that purpose.

The tribunal noted that Veecon is not just contesting the claim of Chacko over rights to use the name and logo of ‘Harvest TV’ even beyond two years’ period but has also sought for another option by applying to the ministry for a change of its name and logo.

Noting that the application is pending since 26th September 2017, the tribunal asked the MIB to take an appropriate decision in accordance with the law on the said application at the earliest and till then Veecon cannot be prohibited from using the name ‘Harvest TV’.

It also stated that this observation will not, however, stand in the way of Chacko in seeking his remedy against the petitioner in respect of the right to use the name and logo of ‘Harvest TV’ in accordance with law

The tribunal has posted the matter under the same heading on 5th March 2019 for further hearing.

Veecon will be at liberty to bring on record any copies of notice which may have been received/or may receive in the meanwhile by way of affidavit/application.

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