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Star-Den drags Network18 to tribunal on termination notice
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New Delhi: After MSM Discovery, content distributor Star-Den is now gearing up to challenge the termination notice given by Raghav Behl's Network18 group before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). While the MSM Discovery case comes up for hearing on Thursday, the Star-Den versus Network18 case is listed for July 29.

According to sources, Star-Den is likely to claim hefty financial damages to the tune of Rs 200 crore from Network18 for walking out of its contract.

The legal battle between the Network18 and Viacom18 with content distributors MSM Discover and Star-Den began earlier this month after the broadcaster decided to terminate its distribution contracts with both the leading content distributor.

While the Network18 group has alleged material breaches, misrepresentation and under-reporting of the subscriber base by both MSM Discovery and Star-Den, the real reasons are different, say both the content distributing agencies.

Last week, Network18 formed a joint venture, Sun 18, with Sun TV Network and now it wants Sun18 to distribute all its channels including Colors, MTV, Nick, CNBC, CNN-IBN and Vh1.

“You can’t simply terminate or ignore binding legal contracts just because you wish to do the business yourself. And not just that, the Network18 group has made serious allegations against the distributors and that is not proper,” says a senior legal expert familiar with the details of the matter.

On July 13, the Network18 group served a termination notice to Star-Den on charges of material breach, misrepresentation and under-reporting of the subscriber base. Star-Den distributes four channels of Network18 including three pay channels –– CNBC, CNBC-Awaz and CNN-IBN.

Terming this as an ‘unfortunate’ move on part of Network 18, STAR-DEN's chief executive Gurjeev Singh Kapoor told FE: “It is unfortunate and sad that Network 18 is breaching its five-year contract with us on flimsy grounds. We have a good case against them but such moves by broadcasters force us to question the sanctity of legal contracts.”

Recently TDSAT declined to give Viacom18 Media an interim injunction against MSM Discovery and barred them from signing any fresh contracts for distribution of their channels till the case comes up for hearing.

Legal experts are of the view that until the matter between Network18 and the content distributor is resolved before TDSAT, it may not be possible for Sun18 to start is business on ground.

Source: Financial Express

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