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Free set-top box ad: MRTPC passes order on DishTV and Tata Sky; DishTV gets interim relief

11-August-2008
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Free set-top box ad: MRTPC passes order on DishTV and Tata Sky; DishTV gets interim relief

The MRTP Commission passed an order on August 7 on two applications, one filed by a consumer organisation Sajag Upbhoghta and the other by Tata Sky, which had alleged that the ‘Free set-top box’ ad campaign of DishTV in print and electronic media was misleading as, according to Tata Sky, the set-top box was not being provided free by DishTV.

In reply to the allegations, DishTV had argued that its Rs 3,990 scheme had the facility of free set-top box, which had been clearly indicated in its print ads. Further, Tata Sky as a competitor and rival trader had no locus standi to file any complaint under Section 36A of the MRTP Act against DishTV. It was Tata Sky, which had set up the so-called consumer organisation by abusing the process of law, DishTV countered. A petition by Sajag Upbhoghta and a consumer, Hari Shankar, was at the behest of Tata Sky and, therefore, the MRTP Commission would not permit the legal process to be misused by a business rival.

By its order passed, MRTP Commission has accepted the arguments of DishTV and has held that Tata Sky being a business rival does not have the locus standi to file a complaint under Section 36A against Dish TV. The MRTP Commission has also directed that the plea of DishTV that Sajag Upbhoghta and the consumer Hari Shankar had been set up by Tata Sky would be investigated/ examined in the trial before the Commission.

In relation to DishTV’s ad campaign in the print media for the Free set-top box scheme on payment of Rs 3,990, the MRTP Commission has clearly held that there is neither any misrepresentation therein nor any such advertisement indicating the free scheme of Rs 3,990 could be said to mislead any consumer.

For the advertisement campaign of DishTV in the electronic media, the MRTP Commission has ordered that DishTV not carry any advertisement for its ‘set-top box free’ offer without indicating the scheme of Rs 3,990, where the set-top box is given free. While passing the order, the MRTP Commission has clarified by ordering, “It is made clear that this relief is being given on the application of Hari Shanker and Sajag and not at the behest of Tata Sky Ltd, the rival trader of the respondent, whose complaint under Section 36A is not maintainable.”

DishTV said that it had made the required changes in its television commercial featuring Shah Rukh Khan. Its reply to the Commission is expected in the next four weeks’ time.

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