New Delhi: Headend in the sky(HITS) operator Noida Software Technology Park (NSTPL) has filed an FIR against Star TV alleging the broadcaster of causing losses of Rs 379 crore by means of overcharging the subscription charges for its channels.
The first information report (FIR) that NSTPL has got registered with the Economic offences wing of Delhi Police on 10th August also includes the name of Star India’s Chairman Uday Shankar. The FIR was filed under Sections 420, 406 and 384 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), which correspond to charges of cheating, criminal breach of trust, and extortion.
NSTPL in its complaint alleged that Star India charged it Rs 203 per subscriber to transmit 30 channels of Star TV network whereas other multi-systems operators (MSOs) such as Hathway and DEN were charged rates as low as Rs 14.8 for the same set of channels.
It cited a 2014 Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) ruling in a case between Hathway and Star TV as evidence to support its claim.
While Star India had approached the Delhi High Court for quashing of the FIR, arguing that the matter was “purely civil and commercial in nature”, the court noted that the FIR had been registered on the direction of the chief metropolitan magistrate at Patiala House Courts. The High Court in its ruling on 10th August, however, said no coercive action “against the petitioners is required till the investigation is concluded”.
Star TV has also filed a parallel complaint against NSTPL with the chief metropolitan magistrate at Patiala court, alleging perjury.
Earlier in 2013, The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has instructed MediaPro(a 50:50 joint venture between Star and Zee) to enter into commercial agreements with NSTPL based the complaint launched by accusing MediaPro of not granting it signals to distribute channels of Star TV and other broadcasters on the grounds that it had failed a technical audit.
NSTPL agreed to commercial terms provided by MediaPro in October 2013 and subscribed to Star TV’s channels at the offered rate of Rs 203 per subscriber “under protest and without prejudice to their rights. It later complained to TDSAT that the rates offered by Star were “discriminatory”.
In a judgement passed in December 2015, TDSAT ordered Star and Taj Television to enter into a fresh commercial agreement with NSTPL based on a new reference interconnect offer (RIO).The tribunal also noted that NSTPL had to be treated similarly to a large pan-India MSOs for arriving at commercial terms for distribution of channels.