The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) has rejected a petition by the Pune-based multi-system-operator Intermedia Cable Communication (ICC) against Ten Sports seeking directions that the sports channel must provide digital signals to it on a voluntary CAS basis.
After hearing the case, Tdsat chairman SP Sinha and Member PK Rastogi said the MSO cannot enforce MoU against Ten Sports since ICC themselves have not provided Subscriber Line Report (SLR). The tribunal also levied a cost of Rs 50,000 on the MSO.
It was also noted that since ICC chose not to divulge the subscriber base which it had with other sports channels, non-production of the documents could entail drawing of an adverse inference against it. The tribunal observed that it is highly improbable that ICC did not know its subscriber numbers/base.
This means Ten Sports can re-negotiate with ICC on the minimum subscriber base of 31,000. Furthermore, Ten Sports is not obliged to provide the digital signals akin to CAS in a non-CAS area. Ten Sports had claimed that the broadcaster is obliged to supply signal to MSO on a non-discriminatory basis, but it does not necessarily mean that the MSO has a legal right to receive signals on an addressable system irrespective of the fact that other MSOs are not ready and willing to take supply of signals on a digital platform.
Furthermore, the Central Government has not declared Pune as a CAS area. Hence, Ten Sports is not bound to supply signals on a digital platform. Voluntary CAS has been connected by way of mutual agreement and not by way of compulsion.
On the other hand, the MSO had said the broadcaster was statutorily obliged to supply signals on a digital mode especially if it was willing to put in place the requisite equipment and also comply with the various terms and conditions. It was further argued that since the numbers have been agreed upon, the broadcasters can neither refuse any payment nor refuse to enter into an agreement.