The Information & Broadcast Ministry has decided to review the permission granted to Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) for simultaneous uplinking of the 10 channels in Ku band on GSAT- 15 Satellite in addition to uplinking in C-Band.
The permission for uplinking of the channels simultaneously in Ku-Band on GSAT 15 Satellite through the teleport of Dish TV India Ltd in addition to C- Band was given by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on October 31, 2019 to ten regional news channels of ZMCL, namely Zee Hindustan, Zee Rajasthan, Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, Zee Bihar Jharkhand, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, Zee Salam, Zee 24 Kalak, Zee 24 Taas, and Zee Odisha (now Zee Delhi NCR Haryana).
The reason given by the company for uplinking on Ku-band was that many operators desired to receive channels in the Ku-Band. These operators desire to receive only one of two channels of the ZMCL in many cases, and do not own or operate a C-Band receiving dish of 4 Meters (16 feet) due to their location in crowded locales where such installations are not possible. The company further mentioned that Ku-band allows smaller dish antennas for its application, hence installation is cheaper and easy and it incurs lesser terrestrial interference.
Subsequently, it came to the notice of the Ministry that these 10 channels of ZMCL are getting available on DD Free Dish. The further examination revealed that the channel’s availability on Free Dish is because of proximity and co-location of transponders of both DD Free Dish and Dish TV on the same satellite.
Therefore, on February 26, 2020, the I&B Ministry has requested ZMCL to opt for either C Band or Ku-Band for uplinking of its above stated 10 channels.
ZMCL In its reply stated that Clause 5.1 of Uplinking guidelines is not a restrictive clause which would prohibit uplinking in both the bands viz. ‘Ku-Band’ and ‘C-Band’. In fact, the said clause actually permits simultaneous uplink in both bands. That there is no bar for simultaneous uplinking in C Band and Ku Band and did not opt for uplinking in any one of the two bands in compliance to the clause 5.1 of the uplinking guidelines.
However, due to such availability of the channels of ZMCL on DD Free Dish, ZMCL was having a competitive advantage vis-a-vis other private broadcasters (who are not on Ku Band) and having leverage of a large subscriber base of DD. The Ministry also received references from Prasar Bharati and many private broadcasters regarding this unfair advantage tos
ZMCL due to permission of simultaneous uplinking of 10 TV Channels on Ku-Band in addition to uplinking in C-Band.
Therefore, the Ministry decided to review the permission granted to ZMCL vide letter dated 3 October 31,2019 for simultaneous uplinking of the above stated 10 channels in Ku band on GSAT- 15 Satellite.
In the review, it was revealed that the permission granted by the Ministry for simultaneous uplinking of the above-stated 10 channels in Ku band is not in conformity with clause 5.1 of the Policy Guidelines for Uplinking and clause 5.6 of the Policy Guidelines for Downlinking.
Accordingly, ZMCL was served a Show cause Notice dated August 16, 2022 as to why the permission of simultaneous uplinking in Ku band should not be revoked. ZMCL submitted a reply to the SCN on August 31, 2022.
A court case was also filed by Gaurav Kochhar Vs UOI and others before High Court of Delhi relating to availability of the above 10 Private Channels of ZMCL being uplinked on Ku-Band to the subscribers of DD Freedish. In the matter, High Court of Delhi vide its interim order dated 30/08/2022 has directed the Ministry to pass a final order in the matter after receiving the reply of the company in respect of the Show Cause Notice and file the action taken report.
ZMCL filed a written submission in response to the Show Cause Notice and inter-alia requested for a personal hearing before taking a final decision in the matter. Accordingly, the company was granted the opportunity for a personal hearing on September 16,2022. Four representatives of the company appeared for the personal hearing. During the hearing, the representatives of the company reiterated its written reply.
The replies submitted by ZMCL vide letter dated 02/03/2020 and 31/08/2022 and the points raised during the personal hearing have been considered by the Ministry. In view of the violation of clause 5.1 of the Uplinking Guidelines as well as clause 5.6 of the Downlinking Guidelines and also in order to provide a level playing field to all the stakeholders in the TV Channel industry, the decision for grant of permission vide letter dated 31/10/2019 to ZMCL for simultaneous uplinking of its 10 TV Channels in Ku Band on GSAT- 15 Satellite through the teleport of Dish TV has been reviewed.
The development might result in blockage of 10 ZMCL channel feeds available on DD Freedish.