(20 January 2007 5:00 pm)

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal on Friday adjourned the hearing in the appeal by Tata Sky against Zee Turner's demand for carrying all the channels they have on offer.

The case, which relates also to the technical issue of transponder constraint, has been adjourned till 9 February, as the counsel for Zee Turner contested the contention of Tata Sky that the regulations of Trai did not have a "must carry" provison., but just a "must provide" provision.

The Zee Turner counsel said that there exist two specific Trai-issued documents that could be placed in the court right away, or later, as the court thought fit, which show that Trai regulations carry a "must carry" provision. The court finally fixed 9 February as the date for filing those documents with a note from the Zee counsel.

Reading out the affidavit to seek to prove his point, the Tata Sky counsel said that Trai had made four points in the affidavit: first, that it was considering the issue and consultative paper would be issued, without fixing a timeframe for that; secondly, that the affidavit does say that there are capacity constraints on the transponders; thirdly, that DTH is at par with the cable operations, being an addressable system; and finally, that Trai says its regulations did have a "must provide", but not a "must carry" provision.

Tata Sky's argument was that since the regulations did not enforce any "must carry" provision, the DTH operator was not bound to carry all the channels provided as package/s by a broadcaster.

To this, however, the Zee counsel asserted that there were two earlier documents by Trai that specifically assert a "must carry" provision, and these could be produced in the court.
Part of the dispute between Tata Sky and Zee Turner rests on the fact that the latter has been insisting that the DTH operator carry all its channels and could not "pick and chose" from them.

The former had argued that the transponder constraint does not allow them to run each and every channel from a broadcaster they take signals from.

In this context, in the earlier hearing on 2 January, Tdsat had asked Trai to look into the transponder issue as well as other issues. Trai has said today that transponder constraint is a reality.

On this, Tata Sky today pleaded that since Trai was considering issuing a consultation paper, and yet, not fixed a date for that, Tdsat may ask Trai to fix a date and issue an interim order to that effect.

However, the proceedings took a different turn with the Zee Turner counsel bringing up the issue of Trai documents mandating a "must carry" provision.