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HC turns down Sun plea to restrain govt from interfering in cable TV ops

Bapun Raz

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/10181560.cms

CHENNAI: Doubting whether the Sun Network's cable TV arm - Kal Cables Pvt Ltd - legally owned its underground cables at all, the Madras high court on Thursday refused to entertain its plea to restrain the government from interfering with its cable business.

Kal Cables moved court, alleging that the government's Arasu TV Corporation was indulging in "state-sponsored piracy" and that it was illegally cutting and using the cables of Kal in the Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode regions . Arasu TV had no infrastructure but was compelling local cable operators to join its network, it said. Claiming that Kal Cables paid track rent to local bodies and that it owned its entire underground cable network, it alleged that though complaints had been lodged, the police did not take any action.

Advocate-general A Navaneethakrishnan , however, said the government had allocated Rs 61.35 crore for Arasu TV, and its job was to provide signals to operators and not lay cables. A total of 35,248 cable operators had enrolled with Arasu TV, and that private operators provided control rooms in 27 districts, except in areas where Arasu owned digital head ends.

Navaneethakrishnan said that paying route/track rent alone would not confer ownership on Kal Cables, and that under Rule 3 of Tamil Nadu Municipalities Television Cable Installation Regulation Rules, 2000, Sun Network should have applied for and obtained permission in accordance with law.

In his order, Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar dismissed Kal Cables ' writ petitions as not maintainable and said the remedy open to Kal Cables was either to approach the respective civic bodies to establish ownership of the cables or to invoke the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure if anyone was cutting or using its cables.

Pointing to an elaborate procedure laid down in the Tamil Nadu Municipalities Television Cable Installation Regulation Rules, the order said persons intending to commence cable TV operations must apply to the commissioner for permission to install cables on street light poles, over public roads and streets. But except for some receipts on payment of track rent, Kal Cables was unable to furnish any details.

"Nowhere in the rules it is stated that if an application is submitted and no order is passed, the permission/NOC is deemed to be granted. Thus, the advocate-general may be justified in contending that Kal Cables is doing cable TV network not in accordance with the rules," the order said.
 
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