Hitting back on the Zee group, Tata-Star DTH venture has filed a petition with the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate tribunal (TDSAT), charging the Indian entertainment major with denial of content and putting exorbitant terms for distributing its channels.
On July 14, TDSAT had asked Star India to provide all its channels to the Zee-promoted DTH provider Dish TV within 15 days at half the rate being charged for the cable platform.
The 80:20 Tata-Star venture, Tata Sky, which is expected to begin commercial services soon, alleged that rival Zee -- which also has group company ASC Enterprises offering DTH services -- had refused to provide content to its platform.
Acting on the petition, TDSAT directed the Zee group to file its reply within 10 days.
"Time of 10 days is given to the respondents (Zee group) to file their replies," TDSAT member Vinod Vaish said.
However, Zee denied that it had refused content to Tata-Sky and claimed that it had not been approached. "So this petition is not maintainable as there is no cause of action," its counsel said.
Zee insiders said it had agreed to provide its entire bouquet of 32 channels to STAR, which, instead, wanted only 14. That's where the deal had got stuck.
Tata Sky's counsel Ramji Srinivasan challenged Zee's claim and placed a letter of acceptance which he said was given by Zee to provide its channels. He also alleged that Zee demanded unreasonable terms for supply of its signals to Tata Sky.
The tribunal also suggested that both the broadcast majors could "sit across the table and come to an agreement" to settle the matter amicably.
Apart from Zee Telefilms, Tata-Sky has made Zee-Turner (the distribution arm of Zee and Turner International India), Turner International India and ASC Enterprises other respondents in its petition.
Zee Turner is a 74:26 joint venture between Zee Telefilms and Turner International India, a sister company of Time Warner. At present, Zee-Turner markets its channels in two bouquets.