Competition watchdog the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has rejected allegations that Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corp indulged in unfair business practices with regard to collection of carriage fee from satellite channels. The complaint was filed by Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam Ltd, which runs ‘Makkal TV’.
It was alleged that Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV, a multi system operator (MSO) — moved ‘Makkal TV’ from S-4 to U-40 band because of the negative news coverage by the channel against the state government, which owns the MSO.
S-4 band is prime band while U-40 is a low frequency one and due to the shifting, the complainant alleged its channel was not seen in most parts of its network in rural areas.
According to the complaint, for the slot — which was offered free of cost for over three years — Arasu Cable TV through an order in April this year asked for a carriage fee of Rs 62.02 lakh and service taxes per month.
Rejecting the complaint, CCI has said that MSOs incur various expenses and floating of the tender by Arasu Cable TV to augment its revenue can neither be termed as unfair or discriminatory in any manner.
The demand of carriage fee by the opposite party for allotting the desired slot for ‘Makkal TV’ is neither unfair nor discriminatory, it noted.
For this case, CCI considered ‘Re-transmission of channels through Cable TV Networks in State of Tamil Nadu except Chennai’ as relevant market.
In a recent order, CCI observed the tender process followed by the Arasu Cable TV fair and transparent. However, the complainant did not participate in the tender process.
“It cannot be said that the informant (Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam) and other free-to-air channels that use the infrastructure provided by MSOs collect revenues from the advertisers and, as such, the insistence by the informant claiming free ride upon the infrastructure deployed by the opposite party, is thoroughly misconceived.
“The opposite party has only relocated the informant’s channel to another frequency slot and the same has not been disconnected from its network altogether,” the order said.
Further, CCI said Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam has already approached the Madras High Court as well agitating similar issues by filing of writ petition and the same is pending adjudication.