Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Delhi High Court lists Zee plea against I&B Ministry order to remove 10 channels on October 6

The Delhi High Court on Thursday listed for October 6, a petition filed by Zee Media against the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asking it to remove its 10 regional news channels from KU Band on grounds of getting unfair advantage.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Yashwant Varma noted on Wednesday that the order passed by the Ministry emanated from the directions issued in a petition pending before the Division Bench. 

The High Court observed that it would be expedient if the same bench dealt with the matter and listed the matter for hearing before the same bench on October 6.

The petition filed by Zee Media contended that the I&B Ministry had directed the media house to remove Zee Hindustan, Zee 24 Kalak, Zee Salaam, Zee 24 Taas, Zee Bihar Jharkhand, Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, Zee Rajasthan, Zee Odisha and Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh from KU Band, a form of satellite frequency, on the GSAT-15 satellite.

In its September 23 order, the Ministry had said that by being on the GSAT-15 satellite, these channels were accessible on DD FreeDish, effectively making them free-to-air. This gave Zee an unfair advantage over competitors.

The Ministry further said that Clause 5.1 of the up-linking guidelines only allowed a broadcaster to uplink its TV channels either in the C band or in Ku band.

It said the presence of these 10 channels were causing a loss of around Rs 100 crore a year to the exchequer, along with a loss of viewership and revenue for the smaller regional broadcasters, as they were being broadcast without paying the auction and license fee to Prasar Bharati, which conducts annual auction for DD Freedish slot.  

The petition by Zee contended that in an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court, the government had stated that there was no prohibition on a broadcaster to simultaneously uplink its TV channels in C band and Ku band. However, it has taken a contrary view in the order under challenge.

The media house alleged that the order by the Ministry was passed under the influence of its competitors and business rivals.

It also said that the complaint on the basis of which the order was passed, was never shared with Zee, which put them at a grave disadvantage as they were unable to exercise their right to a free and fair hearing.

The media house added that the Ministry’s order was in violation of principles of natural justice and done without application of mind.

Case title: Zee Media Corporation Limited & Anr v Union of India & Another


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