TDSAT refuses injunction on Dish TV’s plea seeking restrain on the launch of Star Bharat

Besides Dish TV, Videocon d2h which is being merged with the former simultaneously moved to court against Star India.

e4m by Saif Ahmad Khan
Updated: Aug 26, 2017 4:02 PM


The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) today refused to grant an injunction on Dish TV and Videocon d2h’s hurried plea against Star India. The petitioners had moved to TDSAT alleging that Star India was converting its pay channel Life OK into a free-to-air (FTA) network as Star Bharat by putting it on DD Free Dish platform without informing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). In its defence before the court, Star India responded by saying that “we are only rebranding” and not “converting our pay channel” into FTA. 

 

The broadcaster insisted that merely making a channel available on Prasar Bharati’s DD Free Dish platform does not tantamount to a conversion in the nature of the channel for which the distribution platform operators (DPOs) are being charged. After hearing the submissions, TDSAT chose to refrain from stopping the launch of the channel Star Bharat until the plaintiffs substantiate their claim fully. 

 

TDSAT also directed Star India to file its reply to Dish TV and Videocon d2h’s claims within four weeks time following which the petitioners will have two weeks to respond. The matter is expected to be listed after two months. It was made clear by the court that the agreements penned by Star India with Dish TV and Videocon d2h will continue to operate and the DPOs cannot unilaterally reduce the cost of the channel being offered by the broadcaster. More importantly, if it is proven that the presence of Star Bharat on Prasar Bharati’s free DTH platform is tantamount to the channel’s conversion from pay to FTA then both Dish TV and Videocon d2h will be entitled to refund from Star. 

 

In the past few days, Dish TV has upped the ante against Star India. In a letter sent to the Union I&B Ministry, BCCI, TRAI and Competition Commission of India, Dish TV’s Chairman Jawahar Goel accused Star of wanting to create a monopoly over cricket broadcast rights in the country. He warned that the awarding of IPL telecast rights to Star India will lead to the broadcaster charging distributors an exorbitant sum of money for its sports channels.

 

“In order to serve its long term objective of charging the exorbitant price for its sports channels containing cricketing content, the Star has challenged the authority/jurisdiction of TRAI itself to fix the price of TV channels and the matter is pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Madras,” Goel wrote on August 21. Prior to that on August 11, Goel shot off a letter to the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) alleging discrimination by broadcasters while making pay content available to distributors and over-the-top (OTT) platforms. 

 

“Broadcasters, on one hand, keep on charging huge subscription fee from us and on the other hand, provide the same content/channel to the OTT platforms at highly subsidized rates, thereby not only creating a non-level field but also causing huge detriment to the subscribers of Dish TV. Availability of same content/channel on alternate distribution platforms on much cheaper rate vis-a-vis DTH has started resulting into migration to the alternate distribution platforms,” said the letter.

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