Broadcast tribunal TDSAT has dismissed the plea of Media Pro to hear it as a party in the dispute between DTH operator Dish TV and the global sports broadcaster ESPN on their subscription agreement.
Media Pro Enterprise is a 50:50 joint venture between the Star Den and Zee Turner. Star Den is channel distributing arm of media giant Star, while Zee Turner is for the Zee group and global media leader Turner International.
Dismissing the application of Media Pro, TDSAT on 13 December 2011 said that it was a dispute between a broadcaster and a DTH operator, and although its outcome may impact the broadcast industry it was not feasible to hear every one in the case.
"They may have some repercussion/impact on the industry, but the same would not mean that a question of law needs be answered only upon hearing all those, who may be concerned therewith. If such a stand is taken, this Tribunal may have to implead all the broadcasters and all the DTH operators," the tribunal said.
TDSAT is hearing Dish TV's plea, which has approached the tribunal seeking renewal of its subscription agreement with ESPN for its three channels - ESPN, ESPN Star Sports and Star Cricket.
The DTH operator has requested the tribunal to direct ESPN either to renew its earlier agreement or sign a new one as per its Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO).
The issue which is to be decided by TDSAT is whether the order of the Supreme Court on pricing of channels for DTH would be applicable on the pre-exiting contracts between the operator and broadcaster or not.
On April 18, the apex court had raised the subscription price of a channel for a DTH operator to 42 per cent price of the local cable rate. It had also stayed the order of TDSAT, which had approved the 35 per cent figure of sectoral regulator Trai.
Media Pro wanted to be a party in the matter before the tribunal contending that any interpretation of the apex court's order would have an impact on its existing as well as future agreements with DTH operators.
However, rejecting it, TDSAT said RIO of each broadcaster - based on which they share their channels - was different and a common interpretation was not possible.
"A question of Interpretation of a statute, however, by itself cannot be a ground for allowing an application for impleadment. Moreover, the RIOs of each broadcaster are different," the tribunal said.
TDSAT added that if it finds that its order has industry wide ramifications, it may take the assistance of experts and may hear the other parties concerned.