TDSAT directs MIB not to give effect to its order against Veecon Media

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) not to give effect to its order asking Veecon Media and Broadcasting not to telecast news content on its channels Harvest TV and Kaatyani TV.

Veecon had moved the tribunal against the MIB order directing the two channels not to telecast any news content nor do other activities such as uplinking live contents and use of DSNG equipment without prior permission of the ministry.

While admitting the petition, the tribunal asked the MIB to file its reply within three weeks. Rejoinder, if any, may be filed within two weeks thereafter. The matter has been posted under the head for directions on 2 February 2019.

“However, it will be open for the respondent to apply their mind to all the relevant facts and if they are so advised, they may issue a show cause notice to the petitioner before taking any appropriate action in accordance with law,” the tribunal said in its interim order.

The tribunal noted that the MIB through its order was seeking clarification from the broadcaster before passing of the impugned order and that was dated 20 April. In its clarification dated 2 May 2018, Veecon had said that it was telecasting content which had news also. It had also made claims to being a news and current affairs channel.

During a review in August 2018, the ministry had found that the two channels were telecasting spiritual/devotional content only and no news bulletin/reports were being telecast. Veecon was granted two news uplinking licences in June 2010.

Veecon counsel submitted that this finding is erroneous and what is important is that no opportunity of explanation or show cause was given before coming to this finding which has led the authority to pass the impugned order.

After hearing the broadcaster’s arguments, the tribunal noted that the factual aspects of the controversy will be considered only after reply has been filed but at the present stage the order supports the contention of the petitioner that it has been passed without affording a proper opportunity to show cause against the materials used in the so-called review of August 2018.