CCI by its order dated September 29, 2015 has closed the case against Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (OP), for alleged indulging in unfair and discriminatory practices with regard to collection of carriage fee from satellite channels.
The Information was filed by Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam Ltd, which runs Makkal TV (Informant).It was alleged that OP who is a multi-system operator (MSO) moved the Informant channel from S-4 to U-40 band because of the negative news coverage by the channel against the State government. S-4 band is prime band while U-40 is a low frequency one and due to the shifting, the Informant’s channel was not seen in most parts of its network in rural areas. According to the Informant, for the slot, which was offered free of cost for over three years, OP asked for a carriage fee of Rs 62.02 lacs and service taxes per month.
CCI observed that the MSOs incur various expenses and floating of the tender by OP to augment its revenue can neither be termed as unfair or discriminatory in any manner. The demand of carriage fee by the OP for allotting the desired slot for Informant is neither unfair nor discriminatory. CCI, while exonerating OP observed that “It cannot be said that the informant 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 carriage fee was not arbitrary as it was arrived at through a competitive bidding process, in which the Informant did not even participate.