Saturday, 26 November, 2022
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Zee moves court against govt order that revokes permission to broadcast 10 of its channels

In the petition filed on 26 September, Zee has accused the ministry of not revealing the complaints based on which the 'draconian' measure was taken against it.

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New Delhi: The Zee Media Corporation has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for withdrawing permission to uplink to the Ku band satellite frequency.

The ministry’s order, which came on 23 September, means that Zee could no longer broadcast 10 of its regional channels appearing on DD Free Dish, a direct-to-home (DTH) service.

In the petition filed on 26 September, Zee has accused the ministry of not revealing the complaints based on which the “draconian” measure was taken against it. The company has also argued how, despite efforts to comply with all regulations, the government has revoked its permission to transmit from the Ku band.

“The order dated 23.09.2022 passed by the Respondent No. 1 is perverse as it has been passed in violation of the principles of natural justice. The very complaints on the basis of which the impugned order dated 23.09.2022 has been passed have not been shared till date with the Petitioners,” the petition read.

The I&B ministry withdrew permission for Zee to transmit from the Ku band following complaints by its competitors that the company was trying to access DD Free Dish and its audiences without paying the mandatory auction fee. The government’s order also said that the broadcasting company was trying to seek a competitive advantage in the market by exploiting a technical coincidence.

According to the petition filed by the news broadcaster, it had requested the government to reveal the nature of the complaints received. But all requests were denied, said the petition. The company also said the government’s order is “highly prejudicial” and has “far-reaching consequences”.

“The said directions are very serious in nature, highly prejudicial to the business of the Petitioner No.1 (Zee media) and have far reaching consequences and even then, the Petitioner No. 1 has not been granted any period of time whatsoever to pursue its legal remedies against such a draconian order. It is clear therefore, that the impugned order has been actuated by malice and is aimed to causing unlawful loss to the Petitioner No.1 and unlawful gains to its competitors,” the petition read.


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‘Prasar Bharati could encrypt its signals’

It is to note that the transmission band for Prasar Bharati is not encrypted and placed closely with the Ku band. Hence any channel, if they transmit via the Ku band, can access the vast audience for DD Free Dish.

Networks are expected to participate in e-auctions and pay a fee to access DD Free Dish.

Zee‘s petition pointed out that the government had “failed to consider” how Prasar Bharati could encrypt its signals to avoid any technical anomaly. The petition cited the Direct-to-Home (DTH) guidelines which mandate all licensee holders to encrypt their transmission signals.

“It is submitted that the Respondent No. 1 in passing the impugned order dated 23.09.2022 has failed to consider that the way to ensure that the TV channels of the Petitioner No.1 are not received on DD Free Dish is by simply directing Prasar Bharti to comply with the mandate of the Direct-to-Home (DTH) Guidelines and orders of the Hon’ble TDSAT and encrypt its signals. Encryption of signals by Prasar Bharti will ensure that the TV channels of the Petitioner No. 1 are not received on DD Free Dish,” the petition explained.


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