Scatmag.com

July 2018

STAR - ASIANET SPAT ESCALATES


A Pivotal Case Between Star & Asianet Has Heated Up !


BACKGROUND

Kerala based MSO - Asianet Digital Networks, has demanded that w.e.f. 1 April 2018, Star India renew /execute a fixed sum subscription fees agreement, on nondiscriminatory and reasonable rates, comparable to what Star India has signed with another MSO - Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd (KCCL). Asianet's earlier agreement lapsed on 31st March 2018.

Star India refused Asianet's demand.


TDSAT

Asianet Digital Networks moved the TDSAT, demanding that STAR execute with it a similar fixed sum agreement as had been done with KCCL, its competing MSO.

However, vide its 23rd May order, the TDSAT refused to allow a fixed sum agreement & directed Asianet and Star to execute a Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) agreement within 7 days.






DELHI HC

Displeased with the TDSAT order, Asianet had moved Delhi High Court against the TDSAT's 23 May 2018 order.


INTERIM RELIEF

The 2 member bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla of the Delhi High Court, in its 1 June interim (i.e. for the mean time till a final judgement is pronounced) order, said Asianet can continue to avail the signals from Star India, if:

1. Asianet paid the arrears constituting the difference between what was payable under the old regime and what is to be payable on the basis of the present understanding for the months of April and May to Star India within 60 days.

2. Payment of ₹ 2.5 crore per month, until the matter was finally decided by the High Court.

The order, the bench noted, is without prejudice to the rights and contentions of both the parties.


STAR SHUTS SIGNALS

On June 8, Star India shut off its signals to Asianet Digital Networks, apparently in a move contrary to the Delhi High Court's interim orders.

"Dear subscribers, violating the order of Hon'ble Delhi High Court dated 1.6.2018, Star India has deactivated the channels. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused. We will take necessary steps to approach the Hon'ble High Court to restore justice for our subscribers. Request your cooperation," Asianet has said in a scrolled message to its subscribers.


THE BIGGER ISSUE

It now remains to be seem how the Delhi High Court reacts.

What is of interest to the Cable TV distribution industry at large, is whether the court will permit Star India to continue to provide one MSO (KCCL) a fixed rate agreement, while forcing a competing MSO (Asianet) to take signals at a much higher rate, on an RIO basis. n