TDSAT sets aside MIB order cancelling TV channel licences of OK Music, Tora TV

MUMBAI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has set aside the ministry of information and broadcasting’s (MIB) order revoking the licence of VS Broadcasting’s non-news channels OK Music and Tora TV.

The ministry had revoked the licences by order dated 30th August. The cancellation order was preceded by a show-cause notice dated 12th June 2018 asking the broadcaster to show cause within 15 days as to why action be not initiated under clause 8.2 of the Uplinking Guidelines.

After observing that the company did not submit its response to the Show Cause Notice, the permission to uplink and downlink of two channels was revoked with immediate effect.

“The impugned order is set aside and the Petition is allowed to the aforesaid extent. There shall be no order as to costs,” TDSAT said in its order. Before parting with the order, the tribunal also stated that the ministry should consider the broadcaster’s application for change of name of the channel ‘OK Music’ to ‘Youth Plus’ expeditiously and preferably within one month in accordance with law.

While setting aside the MIB order, the tribunal remitted back the matter to the MIB for taking a fresh decision in accordance with law and keeping in view the contents of the Show Cause Notice dated 12th June 2018 and any reply to the show cause if it is filed by the petitioner within one week from today. It also asked the MIB to complete the exercise expeditiously.

On going through the contents of the petition and the reply in detail, the tribunal found that there is no mention that VS Broadcasting has been earlier awarded any penalty under clause 8.2. Therefore, even if case of the respondent is accepted at its best, the maximum punishment that could have been awarded to the petitioner in terms of the Show Cause Notice would be suspension of permission up to a period of 30 days.

“Although, on behalf of petitioner, it has been contended that after the channels were made operational within the prescribed time, the petitioner has not committed any offence so as to attract penalties, we leave this aspect for consideration by the respondent in view of the order proposed,” TDSAT said in its order.

“They shall consider whether ceasing to broadcast or carry out transmission after the operationalisation of the channel, violates any provision of the Guidelines or the conditions of the permission or not. Prima facie, we have not noticed any such provisions.”

The tribunal also noted that the broadcaster had received the show-cause notice on the date of passing of the impugned order, i.e. 30.8.2018 itself.

“However, since we are satisfied that the impugned order requires to be set aside and the matter needs to be remitted back to the respondent for considering action, if any, in terms of the Show Cause Notice, we are of the view that interest of justice would warrant that respondent should also consider any show cause which the petitioner will be at liberty to submit within one week from today,” the tribunal stated.

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