TDSAT extends interim relief to TV channels in Freedish slot renewal matter
MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has extended the interim relief granted to TV channels whose contracts with DD’s free DTH platform Freedish has expired till further orders.
With Prasar Bharati yet to come up with a new policy decision on selling vacant slots on Freedish, the tribunal has passed an order stating that the interim relief shall continue to the benefit of all concerned until further orders.
It has also directed the Prasar Bharati to file a reply within a further period of four weeks. Rejoinder, if any, should be filed within three weeks thereafter.
The counsel for News Nation Network, Enterr10 Television, Independent News Service, B4U Broadband India, and ABP News Network have submitted that so far no detailed reply has been filed after the interim order. Hence, pleadings have not been completed.
A common stand of the TV channels in these matters is that unless a clear stand is taken by Prasar Bharati in its reply as regards to its policy for future in respect of petitioners, the matter may be kept pending and the interim relief should continue.
The tribunal posted the matter under the same head on 8 February.
In its order dated 27 October, the tribunal in order to avoid undue hardship to the broadcasters and possible discrimination vis-a-vis those who have been earlier granted continuity on pro-rata basis had directed the Prasar Bharati to carry the channels whose contracts have expired or are about to expire on pro-rata basis on Freedish.
The tribunal had also stated that the public broadcaster will be entitled to charge on pro-rata basis either on the basis of the highest bid amount or the reserved price whichever is higher. The highest bid amount would mean the highest bid in that category in the preceding year.
The benefit of the interim arrangement will be made available to the willing petitioners and other similarly situated operators at once and in any case within three days of their approaching the pubcaster with an application.
The broadcasters had moved TDSAT as their channels had either gone off the air or were likely to go off the air very soon due to efflux of time leading to the expiry of the annual agreement following a decision by the DD to suspend the e-auction of vacant slots till further orders.