The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) earlier this month disposed of pleas made by three Multi System Operators (MSOs) to pay damages to them for alleged directions from Andhra Pradesh Government to not disconnect the signals of Cable TV even if they are unpaid subscribers.
Bhimavaram Community Network, Machilipatnam Communication, and Brightway Communications earlier this month moved TDSAT making MIB, TRAI, Andhra Pradesh Government and others are party to the case.
The petitions were to direct I&B Ministry to pay damages to the MSOs in crores on the ground that due to certain guidelines on account of COVID-19 which led to Andhra Pradesh Minister of State issue directions that the signals of Cable TV may not be disconnected even if they are unpaid subscribers.
The tribunal however noted that there wasn’t any material to show that the directions were issued to not disconnect any signals even in cases of non-payment of the due amounts.
The tribunal further noted that there was no dispute with regard to the licensing provisions of the I&B Ministry, so the prayer for award of damage doesn’t merit any consideration. The tribunal noted that it was not even within the jurisdiction of it which decides disputes between service providers and at times between the licensor and the licensee.
The MSOs also made a request to direct TRAI to issue directions to the broadcasters to waive off monthly subscriber charges for the months of March, April, and May 2020 which isn’t backed by any law or any agreement. The tribunal trashed the appeal stating that it would not be proper for it to entertain the petition. The MSOs have been told to seek remedy before any other forum if available in accordance with law.