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ZEEL takes complaint against Den to MIB

Along with other allegations, in the complaint letter, ZEEL furnished various evidences to MIB to show that DEN is supplying signals in an unencrypted and non-addressable mode in DAS notified areas, which is contrary to licensing conditions and violation of regulations

Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting against the MSO DEN Networks. The complaint was filed in a letter dated February 27, 2018, alleging violation of extant DAS Regulations and breach of licence conditions.

ZEEL has, in the complaint letter, furnished various evidences to MIB to show that DEN is supplying signals in an unencrypted and non-addressable mode in DAS notified areas, which is contrary to the licensing conditions and violation of DAS Regulations.

In addition, ZEEL has also submitted video recordings to MIB as evidence to show that DEN is taking channels from a DTH set-top box (STB) and retransmitting the channels through its cable networks in an unencrypted and non-addressable mode.

ZEEL said this amounts to piracy of channels, which is not only an offence under the Copyright Act, 1957 but also specifically prohibited under the Programme Code as provided in Cable Television Network Rules, 1994. Such instances of supply of signals in an unencrypted and non-addressable mode and piracy of channels are in violation of the licence granted by MIB to DEN and the allegations of ZEEL, if found true, may lead to cancellation of the licence of DEN Network.

The complaint states that the actions of DEN in transmitting the channels in unencrypted and non-addressable mode and piracy of channels through DTH set-top box are not only adversely impacting the broadcasters but also causing revenue loss to the public exchequer.

DEN Network seems to be in violation of Section 4A of the Cable Television Network Regulation Act 1995 and the terms of licence conditions issued by the MIB. ZEEL has cited Rule 11(7) of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 to assert that for violation of terms and conditions of the licence/registration granted by MIB, the licence of DEN is liable to be cancelled.

As per ZEEL, DEN is also guilty of short-changing its customers as well as its linked operators; as it has removed all Zee and Turner channels from its monthly packages, but has not reduced the consumer prices of its packages as required under Quality of Service Regulations (DAS). For instance, in Mumbai DEN’s supreme pack was priced at Rs 343 (incl. taxes) prior to packaging change in which DEN was providing 388 channels.

Post change in packaging, DEN has removed 147 channels, whereas the price of the package remains same. This has caused huge amount of angst among its consumers, who have been complaining to the DEN call centre and asking for refund. DEN has been reluctant to offer the Zee channels being demanded by the consumers.

Various linked operator groups have been holding demonstrations in front of authorities regarding DEN’s high-handedness over not providing Zee bouquet of channels despite charging the same amount to the consumers. In a particular case, LCOs from Karnataka have also complained to the nodal officer on February 22, 2018, over supply of poor quality of set-top boxes and sudden deliberate disconnections of TV channels by DEN without notice.

As per ZEEL, it is unfortunate that on the one hand the government has declared successful digitisation in entire country, while on the other even some large MSOs continue to blatantly violate DAS Regulations. Thus, this is not only mockery of law of the land, but also a huge detriment to the ecosystem if few MSOs continue to do piracy, it said.

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