ZEEL moves TDSAT to recover outstanding dues from Hathway

MUMBAI: Broadcaster ZEEL has moved Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to recover outstanding dues from multi system operator (MSO) Hathway Cable and Datacom.

According to a source aware of the development, the broadcaster has issued a demand notice of Rs 50 crore against Hathway. The dues are for a period of 4-5 months.

While the content deal between the parties will expire on 31 March, the broadcaster has filed the petition out of ‘abundant caution’.

The petition filed on 20 February has been admitted by the tribunal. No notice was issued as Hathway counsel Nasir Husain accepted notice on behalf of the MSO.

The tribunal granted Hathway four weeks’ time to file the reply. Rejoinder, if any, may be filed within one week thereafter. The tribunal said that the interim order plea by ZEEL will be considered on the next date. ZEEL has sought protection of its outstanding dues by the tribunal.

The matter has been posted under the head “for orders” on 16 April.

This is the second high profile matter involving ZEEL and an MSO. Earlier, DEN had moved TDSAT against the disconnection notice issued by ZEEL.

As an interim measure, the tribunal had allowed DEN Networks to enter into a reference interconnect offer (RIO) deal with broadcaster ZEEL from 1 February. It has also directed DEN to pay admitted dues of Rs. 23.50 crore within one week from 2 February.

ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka had recently stated that the broadcaster will do fixed fee deals with distribution platform operators (DPOs) till the time Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tariff order, which is currently sub-judice, is implemented.

“It is again linked to the uncertainty around the TRAI tariff order and therefore, until the implementation of that, it is pretty much fixed fee deals that are being entered into,” ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka told analysts when asked about the subscription revenue growth for FY18.

The media conglomerate expects its subscription revenue for FY18 to be in low teens. Its subscription revenue had dropped 15.5% to Rs 501.7 crore during the quarter ended 31 December primarily on account of sale of sports business.

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