HC orders notice to Sun Network

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Madurai, Mar 1 (UNI) The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has ordered notices to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Sun Network and its authorised distributor Channel Plus returnable by ten days on the allegation Sun Network had not followed certain procedures contemplated by the TRAI for converting its free-to-air channels into pay channels.

Mr Justice K Mohan Ram, after hearing the preliminary arguments by the counsel for the Petitioner Majitha Ahmed, a cable operator in Tirunelveli, ordered notice and directed the respondents to file the reply within ten days.

In his writ petition, Majitha Ahmed, a cable operator in Tiruneveli said she would fall within the definition of Multi System Operator (MSO) as mentioned in Clause 2 (a) of a TRAI notification, dated October 1, 2004.

She alleged Sun Network had violated TRAI guidelines, which mandated the broadcaster to advertise in two national newspapers and hold discussions with MSO and cable operators before changing to pay channel platform.

The Sun Network officially began offering pay channels only from December 1, 2007. The MSOs were forced to purchase decoders to receive its signals as early as November 2006 and were asked to pay subscription charges.

Stating she was made to pay the amount to avoid disconnection of Sun TV signal, Ms Ahmed said she had not collected any amount from subscribers since Sun TV was not a pay channel up to November 30, 2007.

Ms Ahmed's counsel M Vallinayagam said his client was forced to approach the court as the Sun Network had issued a public notice on January 31 in a Tamil Daily owned by it threatening to disconnect its signals to his client for defaulting payment of subscription.

Hence, he sought a direction to restrain Sun Network and Channel Plus from collecting subscription fee either from the subscribers or MSOs.

UNI GSM GM SW KN1411

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