TDSAT directs Star not to disconnect signals to IMCL till 29 Nov

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed broadcaster Star India not to disconnect signals to multi system operator (MSO) IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL) till next date of hearing. The tribunal has posted the matter under the same head on 29 November.

The tribunal has granted IMCL 30 days time to clear outstanding dues to the tune of Rs 20 crore till October.

On this understanding, the tribunal stated that the MSO will not be treated as a defaulter for the time being and directed the parties to execute the interconnect agreement either on negotiated terms or on RIO basis within one week.

The tribunal further stated that agreement, if it is on RIO basis, will be effective from 1 November in view of sufficient indication for that purpose in the impugned notice dated 12 October. IMCL was also directed to visit Star’s office and sign the RIO agreement if it wants to receive the signals on RIO basis.

IMCL had moved TDSAT following the disconnection notice issued by Star India on 12 October on account of non-signing of the interconnection agreement since the expiry of the last agreement on 31 July and also for non-payment of licence fee.

Star has asked IMCL to clear outstanding dues and execute a fresh interconnection agreement on mutually negotiated terms effective from 1 August 2018 or on reference interconnect offer (RIO) basis effective 1 November.

IMCL has stated in the petition that the outstanding dues till 31 October as per stand of the Star India comes to Rs. 28.03 crore approximately.

The tribunal noted that the MSO has in vague terms claimed that it has not yet admitted the said amount but it has disclosed that for the month of October the amount will become payable only at the end of the month and that amount as per existing arrangement is Rs. 7.1 crore.

During the submission, it has been stated at the bar that the monthly amount after adding GST and deducting TDS comes to Rs. 6.92 crore. It has also been indicated that the outstanding dues relate to the months of July, August and September and so far as October 2018 is concerned, that would become payable at the end of the month.

During the hearing, IMCL counsel offered to hand over a cheque dated 26 October for the aforesaid amount of Rs. 6.92 crore to Star India counsel.

Under the tribunal’s directions, the cheque has been handed over in court for Rs. 6.92 crore. The tribunal stated that the figures of outstanding dues are always subject to reconciliation of accounts and verification.

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