Our Bureau

New Delhi, Feb. 2

AFTER the English movie channel HBO became a fresh bone of contention, the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Tuesday adjourned till February 16, Zee-Turner's appeal challenging TRAI's order to restore cable signals to the Kerala-based Asianet Satellite Communications.

During the TDSAT hearing, Asianet agreed to pay Zee-Turner Rs 1 crore in lieu of outstanding dues for the year 2004. This was to be paid in two instalments of Rs 50 lakh each before February 16. However, the cable service provider asked the distribution company to also show the HBO channel once it restored the signals.

Zee-Turner objected to this and said that signals of only those channels that were available on December 16, 2004, would be restored. HBO was a new addition to its bouquet from this year and thus would not be included.

After both the parties failed to arrive at a consensus on the matter, the Bench headed by Mr Justice D.P. Wadhwa adjourned the matter till February 16.

Zee-Turner had blocked signals to Asianet on December 16 last year. Besides non-payment of dues, it had charged Asianet with unauthorised distribution of signals and under-declaration of subscriber base that it claimed resulted in huge financial losses.

Asianet challenged this before TRAI, which had on January 11 reprimanded Zee-Turner for switching off the signals and asked it to "immediately restore" the services.

TRAI said Zee-Turner was at mistake and its step was against its December 10 Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection Regulation which stipulated that it give a month's notice to Asianet before disconnection as well as notice in two local newspapers/two national dailies or through a scroll on the channel. Zee-Turner then decided to challenge this order in TDSAT, claiming it was within its rights to switch off signals.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 3, 2005)
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