TDSAT directs IMCL to pay Rs 5 cr to Sony to avoid disconnection

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed multi system operator (MSO) IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL) to pay Rs 5 crore to Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) within three weeks.

The tribunal has also directed Sony not to give effect to the disconnection notices till the next date of hearing on 16 August.

The MSO had moved TDSAT against the broadcaster’s disconnection notice for 21 cities. The differences between the parties have cropped up over the quantum of dues.

As per IMCL’s own admission, the outstanding dues are Rs. 9.20 crore till June 2018 with an additional burden of Rs. 2.16 crore for every current month. These figures have been challenged by the broadcaster.

The tribunal noted that the MSO cannot be permitted to remain a defaulter and claim the right of further agreement with the broadcaster only on the plea that accounts to be reconciled.

It directed the MSO to complete the reconciliation of accounts within a maximum period of two weeks if it is interested in moving forward.

“It is on their understanding that the total liability on reconciliation of accounts will have to be met by the petitioner within a short time which may be determined on the next date,” the order stated.

It also asked both the parties must meet and discuss modalities of settling the liabilities as well as entering into future agreement with effect from 1 September. The MSO will have to clear/settle all its dues till July for entering into a fresh agreement.

On the next date, the tribunal said it will consider granting only a short period of one week for making further payments if parties are unable to come to a settlement in the meantime.

Meanwhile, in another case involving TV Today Network and IMCL, the tribunal has directed the MSO to pay Rs 10 lakh within one week without waiting for the result of reconciliation of accounts.

It also asked IMCL to pay its dues lawfully payable immediately after the settlement of account to be done within one week. The parties have to reconcile the accounts by meeting on an agreed date within one week.

It has also asked the broadcaster not to give effect to the notice of disconnection till the next date of hearing on 27 August.

It also told the parties to hold talks for entering into a fresh interconnect agreement either on negotiated terms or on RIO basis within a month since the previous agreement expired on 30 June.

Learned counsel for IMCL has submitted a chart to show that the total outstanding dues would be only Rs. 5.52 lakh whereas, whereas as per notice for disconnection of signals, the dues are Rs. 28 lakh and odd.

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