Cable Operators demand MIB to take action on broadcasters

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Major broadcasters including STAR INDIA PVT. LTD., ZEE ENTERTAINMENT ENTERPRISES LTD., SONY
PICTURES NETWORK INDIA PVT. LTD., VIACOM 18 MEDIA PVT. LTD., and WARNER MEDIA INDIA PVT. LTD. have blatantly violated provisions of Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Act, 1995 and Policy Guidelines for downlinking of television channels by retransmitting the downlinked channels to the ultimate subscribers without even obtaining registration under Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Act, 1995. Important to note here is that the transmission of channels to the ultimate consumer can be done only in accordance with Cable Television Network (Regulations) Act, 1995 and therefore, all the requirements of DAS License has to be fulfilled in order to distribute signals of channels to the ultimate subscribers.

As per Section 4A of Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Act, 1995, the transmission of programmes / channels could be only through Digital Addressable Systems whereas on the other hand, the broadcasters are transmitting the pay channels without Digital Addressable Systems. Important to note herein that as per various laws and regulations implemented by Government of India, distribution of channels to the subscribers can be done only through Distributor Platform Operators, who have valid registration under Section 4A of Cable Television Networks (Regulations), 1995.

Without obtaining any MSO registration, ‘Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.’ is transmitting the contents of all of its channels to the ultimate subscribers illegally, through a self-owned Application namely ZEE5. Similarly, without obtaining any MSO registration, Sony Pictures Network India Ltd. is transmitting the contents of all its channels to ultimate subscribers illegally through a self-owned Application namely SONYliv. Likewise, without obtaining any MSO registration, Star India Pvt. Ltd. is transmitting the contents of all its channels to ultimate subscribers illegally through a self-owned Application namely Disney Hotstar and same is the case with Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd. which is also transmitting the contents of all its channels to the ultimate subscribers illegally through a self-owned Application namely VOOT without having any MSO registration.
That the Broadcasters have given the name of this illegal activity as OTT (Over the Top) which has been adopted to bypass the laws for Cable Television implemented by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Pertinently, in Cable TV and Broadcasting regulatory regime, signals can either be retransmitted by Internet Protocol or by Decoder boxes and in both the scenarios, it is mandatory for the Distributors to seek registration under Section 4A of the Cable TV Networks (Regulations) Act, 1995 so that various formalities including but not limited to MHA security clearance can be obtained before starting the distribution of services to the ultimate consumers. These broadcasters are not only blatantly violating the law of land but are also causing a threat to the security of our Country as no MHA security clearance of these Companies have been done.

That said broadcasters in connivance with each other are regularly increasing the prices of the channels for the DPOs and the subscribers and subsequently, selling the subscriptions of their respective pay channels on their applications at a very cheap price. Pertinent to mention here that once the broadcaster fixes the price of its channels in accordance with the Tariff order thereafter, all the pay channels of the said Broadcaster must be offered to the ultimate subscribers in accordance with the said rates only and that is the very reason, the Reference Interconnection Agreements are required to be published by the Broadcasters. The broadcasters have bypassed the applicability of Tariff Order by not obtaining the MSO registration for distributing the pay channel content.

Since the broadcasters have violated the policy guidelines for down-linking of television channels and therefore, the cable operators are requesting the MIB to take action against these broadcasters and to cancel the permission granted to them for downlinking of television channels. The Cable Operators
Have been asking the MIB to take necessary action in accordance with the law on an immediate basis.

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