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General News TDSAT rules against cable ops, slams oral interconnect deals
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Mumbai: The Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) disposed of three petitions filed by the Karnataka State Digital Cable TV Operators’ Welfare Association and the Cable Operators’ Sangram Association, Kolkata, against multi-system operators (MSO) Siti Cable Networks Ltd and Hathaway Cable & Datacom Ltd. Disposing of their petitions, Justice Aftab Alam said that the local cable operators (LCOs) who had petitioned the TDSAT had entered into informal oral arrangements on interconnection deals, which are legally invalid. The judge cited Clauses 5 (17) to 5 (20) of the Interconnection Regulations 2012, which make written agreements between MSOs and LCOs mandatory. These clauses make it mandatory for MSOs to put terms and conditions of interconnection agreements in writing. The clauses state that no MSO shall make signals of TV channels available to any linked LCO without entering into a written interconnection agreement. The judge noted that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had amended regulations to plug even the little loophole that was misused for continuing the supply of signals under DAS transmission even after the expiry of that agreement. “Further, by another amendment to the regulations, it has removed the ambivalence that was created in the scheme of interconnections as a result of fixing the shares of the MSO and the LCO by a tariff order dated 10 July 2010, as amended on 30 April 2012,” he observed. “The two amendments in the Interconnect Regulations 2012 made by TRAI during the pendency of these petitions leave nothing for adjudication in these matters and all that is required is to direct the parties to simply follow the law,” he observed. “These three cases concerning around 375 LCOs operating in two different parts of the country, Bengaluru and Kolkata, are illustrative of the malaise of distributors of TV channels entering into interconnection arrangements without any agreement in writing (or at any rate a definitive agreement) as mandated by law. In the short run, oral arrangements may appear expedient and profitable, but with the passage of time, the relationship becomes both strained and hurtful and then one of the two sides approaches the Tribunal for redressal of its grievances. This is what has happened in the three cases and a number of similar cases pending before the Tribunal,” Justice Alam said, dismissing the petitions. “Here it needs to be emphasised that these three petitions do not make an isolated case. Actually, a large percentage of cases coming to the Tribunal from the broadcasting sector have their root cause in the absence of any agreement in writing between the parties. Further, and what is more regrettable, the cases in which two distributors of TV signals happen to be in interconnection arrangement without any agreement in writing is not confined only to analogue transmission but arise almost in equal numbers under the DAS regime,” the judge observed.

Read more at: http://www.televisionpost.com/trai-tdsat/tdsat-rules-against-cable-ops-slams-oral-interconnect-deals/ | TelevisionPost.com
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