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Consumer group to challenge CCI order on DTH set-top box


7 Apr 2011
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Consumer group to challenge CCI order on DTH set-top box.

New Delhi: Not convinced that the six private DTH operators cannot provide a cost-effective solution to make their respective DTH boxes interoperable, consumer rights activist Bejon Misra’s Consumer Online Foundation (COF) is set to challenge the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) recent order against its petition which found the DTH operators “not guilty” of unfair trade practice.
The COF has been fighting on behalf of the consumers in the CCI to make all DTH set-top-boxes portable. This means, any DTH subscriber need not buy a new box if he decides to change DTH service provider. Currently, the portability of DTH boxes is not available commercially therefore consumers changing their DTH service provider have to buy a new hardware.

The COF had alleged collusion among the DTH operators as the main reason for not providing interoperability in DTH. The COF dragged the private DTH operators like Dish TV, Tata Sky, Reliance Big TV, D2H, Sun Direct and others before the CCI in 2009 citing violation of Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act 2002, which pertain to abuse of dominant market position and anti-competitive agreements.

However, the CCI did not find the DTH operators in any violations of the anti-competitive agreements under the Competition Act in an order which came out a few weeks ago, sources said. The CCI, whose order is yet to be made public, is reported to have cited techno-economic issues as the main reason behind non-availability of an add-on device (CAM) which will make DTH portability possible.

“The matter has not ended with an unfavourable order against us. We are going to take it further,” Bejon Misra of COF told FE. According to the law, the NGO will either file a writ petition in the Delhi High Court or go for an appeal within CCI. “We should take a decision within next one week,” Misra said.

According to a person familiar with the details of the case, the CCI did not conduct proper investigations in the matter. “Neither COF nor the lawyers representing the case shared the submissions made by the respondents. In fact, CCI demanded money for the inspection of the submissions and responses made by the other party. The law says the petitioners should get a copy of all submissions filed by the other party,” a person familiar with case said.

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