Petition filed by Asianet Satellite Communication Ltd. seeking recovery of Rs. 1.30 crores towards balance of carriage fees, dismissed

Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) : TDSAT has dismissed a petition filed by Asianet Satellite Communication Ltd. seeking payment from a local cable operator Sathyadhara Communications Pvt. Ltd. for the period for which the signals were sent even after expiry of a valid interconnect agreement. The recovery petition was filed for a sum of Rs. 1.30 crores allegedly payable by the Sathyadhara Communications Pvt. Ltd. towards balance of carriage fees for the year 2012-13. A further sum of Rs. 20,47,500/- was also claimed as interest @ 18% p.a. for the delay in payment of the carriage fees. Earlier, a carriage agreement was signed on August 8, 2011 between the parties for one year from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012 to carry and retransmit signals of Darshana TV channel of the respondent for an amount of Rs 60 lakh per year exclusive of taxes. Though the agreement dated 8.8.2011 expired on 31.8.2012 by efflux of time, both the parties were desirous of continuing relationship in terms of the clause 8.2 of the same which said that the agreement may be renewed for a further period, on terms and conditions mutually acceptable to the parties. The parties negotiated for the renewal of the carriage agreement, but Asianet Satellite Communication Ltd. suggested some modifications in the agreement which were not acceptable to the Sathyadhara Communications Pvt. Ltd. After some further correspondence between the parties on the same lines, the petitioner issued a notice for disconnection of the petitioner’s channel on 24.10.2013 and thereafter disconnected the same on 20.11.2013. The dispute pertains to a period starting from September 1, 2012 till the disconnection of carriage of signals by the respondent on November 20, 2013. After perusing the material on record, TDSAT noted, “As can be seen from the correspondence exchanged between the parties, the petitioner was asking Rs. 1.5 crore per year, exclusive of taxes, for carriage of the channel. The respondent, however, wanted its channel to be placed in certain specific slots in both digital and analogue head-ends of the petitioner. The petitioner in turn was asking more than Rs. 2 crores for placing the channel in the specific slots, which was not acceptable to the respondent.” The Tribunal further noted that as there was no acceptance of the offer made by the petitioner by the respondent, there was no concluded contract. While dismissing the petition, TDSAT observed that it is also not a case where the respondent has remained silent and availed the services of the petitioner as the parties were in discussion but could not come to any agreement; hence, there was also no contract sub-silentio.  [Asianet Satellite Communication Ltd. v. Sathyadhara Communications Pvt. Ltd., Petition no. 201(C) of 2013, decided on December 10, 2015]

Source: Legal news India