New Delhi, Sep 29 (PTI) Zee Media has approached the Delhi High Court challenging an order by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrawing the permission granted to the media house for uplinking its TV channels on Ku Band on GSAT-15 Satellite, an arrangement that allegedly gave it an unfair advantage over competitors.
Justice Yashwant Varma noted the ministry’s order emanated from directions which were earlier issued on a PIL in a related matter by a division bench of the high court.
“In view of the aforesaid, it would be expedient for this matter to be placed before the appropriate division bench,” the court said, adding that the petition be listed for hearing before the same division bench on October 6.
The ministry was represented by central government standing counsel Anil Soni.
Zee media has sought setting aside of the ministry’s September 23 order and urged the court to restore the permission granted to it on October 31, 2019 to uplink its 10 channels simultaneously on Ku band.
It has contended the ministry’s order was perverse as it was passed in violation of the principles of natural justice, and the complaints on the basis of which it was passed have not been shared till date with the petitioner.
“Without access to these key documents, the petitioner has been put at a grave disadvantage and is unable to exercise its right to a free and fair hearing,” it said.
By being on the GSAT-15 satellite, these channels were accessible on DD FreeDish, effectively making them free-to-air. According to the ministry, this gave Zee an unfair advantage over competitors.
The ten channels of Zee Media Corporation Ltd ordered to have been removed are Zee Hindustan, Zee Rajasthan, Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, Zee Bihar Jharkhand, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, Zee Salaam, Zee 24 Kalak, Zee 24 Taas and Zee Odisha (now Zee Delhi NCR Haryana).
In the pending PIL before the division bench, the counsel for the Centre had on August 30 informed the court that notices were issued on August 16, to 10 news channels directing them to show cause as to why permission of October 31, 2019 granted by the ministry to them for simultaneous uplinking of 10 channels in KU Band on GSAT-15 satellite from the teleport of M/s Dish TV India Ltd should not be revoked.
The division bench had then directed the Centre to pass a final order in the matter after receiving the replies from those to whom show cause notices had been issued.
The PIL highlighted how a loss of crores of rupees was being caused to the public exchequer because of “illegal” placement of the channels uplinked by Dish TV India belonging to Zee Media Corporation.
It has alleged that these channels were available on the DTH platform of Prasar Bharti called DD Free Dish for free, when as per rules placement/carriage of private TV channels on DD Free Dish platform is permitted only through bid in e-auctions, with the minimum reserve price ranging from Rs 6 crore to Rs 15 crore a year.
The PIL said the participation fee for e-auction also includes a non-refundable processing fee of Rs 25,000 and a refundable demand draft of Rs 1.50 crore in favour of Prasar Bharti.
It sought immediate stoppage of “illegal carriage” of these channels on DD Free Dish DTH platform and an investigation into the “scam”. PTI SKV SK SK
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