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Zee Media moves to Delhi HC against I&B ministry

In response to the information and broadcasting ministry withdrawing its approval for the news broadcaster to uplink 10 TV channels in the Ku-band (a type of satellite frequency) on the GSAT-15 satellite, Zee Media Corporation Ltd. (ZMCL) has filed a petition with the Delhi High Court.

This uplinking gave the media company an unfair advantage over its rivals by making these channels available on DD Free Dish.

An order from the ministry last week stated that ten regional news channels, including Zee Hindustan, Zee Rajasthan, Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, Zee Bihar Jharkhand, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, Zee Salam, Zee 24 Kalak, Zee 24 Taas, and Zee Odisha (now Zee Delhi NCR Haryana), were allowed to operate on C-Band, another form of satellite

However, it later discovered that same channels were also accessible via FreeDish, Doordarshan’s direct-to-home service. This occurred due to the proximity, co-location, and lack of signal encryption by both DD FreeDish and Dish TV transponders on the same GSAT 15 satellite. ZMCL responded to I&B’s show cause notice by asserting that the co-location of DD FreeDish and Dish TV on the same satellite and Prasar Bharti’s non-encryption of the signals, which is against DTH regulations, are to blame for the issue.

“The order..is perverse as it has been passed in violation of the principles of natural justice. The very complaints on the basis of which the impugned order has been passed have not been shared till date with the Petitioners. Without access to these key documents, the Petitioners have been put at a grave disadvantage and are unable to exercise their right to a free and fair hearing,” ZMCL referred to the order as draconian in its writ petition.

The company has underlined that the aforementioned instructions are of a very serious nature, very detrimental to its operations, and have far-reaching effects. Additionally, the media company has said that it hasn’t been given any time to pursue its legal remedies. “It is clear therefore, that the impugned order has been actuated by malice and is aimed to causing unlawful loss to the petitioner and unlawful gains to its competitors,” it has said.

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