Independent TV’s plea in the Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to direct Antrix to resume its services to the DTH operator was accepted by the court on Tuesday.
The Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Tuesday directed Antrix to enter negotiations with Independent TV so that a final decision in this regard may be taken at an early date, preferably within four weeks from the date of resumption of supply of signals.
The service providers’ inability to pay Antrix led to the disconnection of its signal. Antrix later encashed a bank guarantee worth Rs 15 crore. The prayer on behalf of Independent TV made through the M.A. is to direct the respondent – Antrix to reconnect the signals forthwith with a further direction to enter into a long term lease agreement with the petitioner because the petitioner has now received intimation that it has been granted the required license by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on certain conditions and the license is valid till 31st December 2019.
The court noted “Considering that the petitioner has been facing financial difficulties which led to disconnection as already noted, we are of the view that resumption of facilities in favor of the petitioner should be made available only on petitioner either paying the amount of Rs. 5.83 Crore along with a bank guarantee of Rs. 6 Crore or on furnishing a bank guarantee of Rs. 12 Crore valid for at least two months. As soon as the petitioner complies with this part and furnishes the bank guarantee or makes the payment, of respondent no. 1 shall reconnect the signals.”
Antrix had issued a disconnection notice to the DTH operator on 27th May 2019 for failing to pay its dues in time. The tribunal had granted relief of seven days to clear the dues on the plea of the petitioner which stated it was facing financial problems. The court had directed the DTH operator to clear all the dues by 12th June or lose its bank guarantee.
5 days later, the service provider told the court that their account was frozen for some reason and requested another extension which was rejected by the court. The signals were disconnected on 13th June. The service provider initially mentioned 22nd June as the date for signals to resume but then pushed it back to 2 July.
Woeful Service from Woeful DTH
Ever since Pantel took over Reliance Big TV and renamed it Independent TV the service provider has been entangled in a lot of trouble. Consumers were promised all channels for one year but since March many HD and SD channels were removed from the platform. Failing to pay the dues to broadcasters led to the disconnection of channels from major broadcasters. Things worsened after consumers started facing the STB freezing issues due to a software defect. As per TRAI, the service provider had failed to clear the dues of OVT India leading to this situation.
The promoter of Independent TV Sanjay Bhati was recently arrested in BikeBot scam. As per the submission of the service provider to TDSAT on June 8 its account was frozen for some reason due to which it was unable to pay its dues to Antrix.
Exclusive Insider scoops accessed by DreamDTH show that distributors have complained to TRAI of consumer and trade harassment by Independent TV on June 17. In mid-May, TRAI warned Independent TV that it would take strict action if it didn’t fix the problems in two days. 45 days down the lane the regulator is still sleeping. Lakhs of customers have been affected by the disruption of Independent TV service. It would seem that the regulator has chosen to turn a blind eye to the issue.