Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has postponed the Horizon Satellite Services vs Union of India matter to 16th December.
As The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a show cause notice to Horizon TV for transferring the channel licence illegally.
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Horizon has filed a petition in TDSAT seeking directions for the MIB to expedite its applications seeking change in licence name from Y TV to Bloomberg Quint as well as approval for the appointment of new directors on the board.
By the last order dated 29th November, the tribunal had granted only one week’s time to the MIB to dispose of Horizon’s pending applications, although, the prayer was made for grant of two weeks’ time.
Union of India counsel submitted that the applications have not been disposed of because some new development has taken place resulting into issuance of a show-cause notice dated 6 December 2019.
Horizon has been granted one week’s time to reply to the said notice. According to the MIB, Horizon’s application cannot be decided till a decision is taken in respect of fresh notice issued on 6 December 2019.
The MIB has come ready with an affidavit which it wants to file for seeking directions. However, the tribunal expressed surprised that such a development has taken place on the day when the MIB was required to take a final decision in terms of its earlier order.The tribunal wondered whether the attempt is to delay the decision for an indeterminate period or it is bonafide will require consideration because its earlier order to dispose of the applications has not been complied with.
Non-compliance, if found without good reasons, may entail penalty, the TDSAT warned. However, it noted that this aspect should not stand in the way of Horizon in getting an early decision on its applications.
The tribunal noted that it will be open for Horizon to file a reply to the show-cause notice if so advised, even while the matter is pending. It will also be open for the MIB to take note of Horizon’s reply if filed, and to proceed in accordance with the law.
“It is made clear that since the passing of the order by this Tribunal on 8.5.2019 the respondent is under an obligation to decide pending applications within a reasonable time. This Tribunal has not considered the merits of the petitioner’s case so far but if no decision is taken soon, the prayers made in the applications may have to be considered by the Tribunal itself instead of granting further time to the respondent,” TDSAT said in its order.
The tribunal posted the matter under the same head on 16th December as a prayer has been made to grant a short adjournment so that the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vikramjeet Banerjee can explain the stand of the MIB in the affidavit.
It also warned the MIB that no further accommodation will be granted to the respondent for explaining the affidavit and the matter shall be heard on merits.
Horizon, which has been acquired by Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion Business Media, has moved TDSAT against the delay by MIB to process its name change application. The company wants to change the name of its licence from Y TV to Bloomberg Quint.
Quintillion Business Media (QBM) which is a 74:26 joint venture (JV) between Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion Media and Bloomberg, had applied for a fresh licence to launch Bloomberg Quint channel. However, the company failed to secure a licence from the MIB.
Subsequently, QBM acquired Horizon Satellite Service, which owns two news and current affairs television licences. Following the acquisition by QBM, Horizon has sought MIB’s approval to change the name of one of its licences. The company also wants approval for the change of directors.