TDSAT directs Star not to disconnect signals to RBTV

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed broadcaster Star India not to disconnect signals to direct to home (DTH) operator Reliance Big TV (RBTV), which provides service under the Reliance Digital TV brand.

Star India had issued a disconnection notice against the DTH operator for non-payment of the licence fee and non-execution of the subscription agreement. The DTH operator owes Rs 22 crore to the broadcaster.

After hearing the parties, the tribunal said that the interim prayer will be considered on 16 January and till then the respondent should not give effect to disconnection notice.

While noting that the matter will require consideration of issues beyond the issue of outstanding, the tribunal directed that the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) be added as a party respondent and serve a copy within a day.

The tribunal stated that the MIB has been added only to give a response to the fact mentioned by the DTH operator that it has done everything to secure renewal of its licence as DTH operator.

The MIB has been asked to make its stand clear to the tribunal by the next date.

As reported earlier, leading pay-TV broadcasters Star India, ZEEL, Sony Pictures Networks India, IndiaCast Media, Discovery Communications, and Sun TV Network have filed recovery petitions in the TDSAT against Reliance Big TV.

The DTH Company owes more than Rs 100 crore to leading broadcasters like Star India, ZEEL, Sony Pictures Networks India, TV18, Viacom18, Sun TV, and Discovery Communications India.

Reliance Communications, the promoter of Reliance Big TV, has sold the DTH business to Pantel Technologies and Veecon Media and Television. The buyers will acquire the entire shareholding of RBTV with business on an “as-is, where-is” basis, along with existing trade and contingent liabilities.

The transaction has ensured that the 1.2 million customers of Reliance Digital TV will continue to enjoy uninterrupted services. It also ensures continuity of employment for approximately 500 employees of RBTV.

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