TDSAT directs Prasar Bharati to allow broadcasters to continue

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) directed the Prasar Bharati to continue the beaming of channels of Zee Turner and other.

Allowing the plea of channels which had approached the tribunal following disconnection of their channels from DD Direct +, the tribunal said the public broadcaster should frame a policy regarding terms and conditions for broadcast of the channels through its DTH platform.

The tribunal further said that while disconnecting these channels, Prasar Bharati has neither given 21 days prior notice nor opportunities to the channels to enter into agreement for further broadcasting.

"Till such time an appropriate order is passed, the petitioners shall be allowed to continue to broadcast the channel on payment of usual charges, as is payable by others," said a TDSAT bench headed by Chairman Justice S B Sinha.

Tribunal's direction came over three petitions filed by the broadcasters challenging disconnection of their channels by Prasar Bharati without complying with the provisions.
Taking a serious note, the tribunal wanted to know why Prasar Bharati removed only some of the channels of one broadcasting group.

"Why only some of the channels were removed from DD Platform has not been explained.
"It has also not been shown as to why despite the fact that a large number of channels, i.e. 36 channels were being aired on DTH Platform and a large number of them would have completed their term by January 2011, only 8 of them were picked up, 3 of them belonging to one group," the tribunal said.

The tribunal said that the core committee of the public broadcaster, which was to look into the continuation of the channels, didn't consider the applications of the broadcasters.

"It also does not appear from the records that its request for renewal of the agreement has been placed before the Core Committee," the tribunal said.

The state owned firm had submitted that the TRP rating of the broadcasters's channels were very low and therefore they are not entitled to renewal of their agreement.

It also submitted that they had no legal right to obtain renewal of their agreement. However, the broadcaster on the other hand had said that Prasar Bharati being a state owned firm should formulate certain principles and policy on the basis of which channels distribution agreement should be renewed or discontinued.

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