Television

Asianet Satellite  in Delhi HC against Star's rates

Asianet Satellite in Delhi HC against Star's rates

Published:28 April 2018

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notice to Star India and sought its reply by May 3 on the cable operator's plea that it was being asked to pay a higher rate than its competitor Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd (KCCL) for subscribing to Star channels

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court Friday sought the response of the Star India Pvt Ltd, subsidiary of US-based 21st Century Fox, on a plea by Kerala cable operator Asianet Satellite Communications Ltd (ASCL) against an order of telecom tribunal TDSAT on the rate to be paid to the former for showing its channels in southern India.Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notice to Star India and sought its reply by May 3 on the cable operator's plea that it was being asked to pay a higher rate than its competitor Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd (KCCL) for subscribing to Star channels.Appearing for ASCL, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan contended that the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had asked it to either pay a negotiated amount or the rate under the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO), which lays down the price and terms for providing signals to a cable operator.He said that ASCL's options were to either pay Rs 17.38 per subscriber per month under the agreement with Star or Rs 962 per subscriber per month under the RIO, while KCCL was paying only Rs 6 per subscriber per month.ASCL said that with a subscriber base of around 14 lakh, it was paying over Rs 2.5 crore per month while KCCL, having around 29 lakh subscribers, was paying only Rs 1.8 crore.The court remarked that someone with a larger subscriber base would get a better rate.ASCL, while agreeing with the court's view, said the difference in rates cannot be as wide as in the instant case and claimed it was being discriminated against as compared to KCCL.Star, represented by senior advocate Amit Sibal and advocate Saikrishna Rajgopal, denied the allegation of discrimination, saying that the RIO rate after discounts was Rs 30 per subscriber per month, which has been constant for the last two years, and not Rs 962 as claimed by ASCL.Sibal said that under the RIO, if a cable operator's number of subscribers increases or decreases, then Star's revenue would also go up or down.He said under its fixed fee plan, a lump sum is charged from a cable operator irrespective of its subscriber base. In the instant case, a lump sum fee was being charged from ASCL as well as KCCL, he added.However, the difference in amounts was because KCCL wanted signals only for 48 channels in one state - Kerala while ASCL wanted signals for 62 channels in four states - Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telengana. 


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