Thursday, Sep 04, 2003
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By Our Legal Correspondent
A Bench, comprising Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Justice B. P. Singh, reserved order on the petitions at the conclusion of day-long arguments from senior counsel, P. Chidambaram for Star, Ashok Desai for Sony and Kapil Sibal for Siti Cable.
Apprehending that in the event of the coming into force of the Conditional access system (CAS) from September 1 in Delhi, Star and other groups might not release the signals, Siti Cable moved the MRTPC and obtained an interim order.
Contending that the MRTPC's order had infringed on their right to control their signals, Star and others prayed for stay of the interim order. Star submitted that Siti had switched from terrestrial to headends-in-the-sky (HITS) based transmission and wanted to have complete control over the distribution of the channels.
Appearing for Star, senior advocate, P. Chidambaram, said that through the HITS-based transmission Siti wanted to wipe out the control of the content provider over the subscriber base. Siti cable, which did not even have an agreement with Star for transmission through HITS, was behaving as if it was the owner of the signals.
He said that when Star did not have any agreement with Siti Cable, how could it compel to release the signals of the channels in the bouquet. As a content provider, Star must have the control over the signals and switch off the signals to the defaulters. Contending that the MRTPC's order was illegal, he sought its stay.
Appearing for Sony, senior advocate, Ashok Desai, disputed the Siti Cable's contention that they were refusing to release the signals as there was no agreement between them and Siti Cable.
Appearing for Siti, senior advocate, Kapil Sibal, contended that these major channels after forming a cartel were planning to ease out other cable operators. He said that Star and others could not refuse the signals to Siti Cable when they were prepared to release the signals for other operators. Star proposing to be a broadcaster in India was promoting its company Hathaway in cable operation and wanted to create a monopolistic situation by denying Siti the signals of major channels.
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