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Zee may block signals to Hathway subscribers

The TV broadcaster alleges that Hathway has not been paying subscription fees since many months and it may have to terminate its content deal with the cable operator

Subscribers of Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd’s TV cable network across Delhi, Mumbai and Pune may soon be unable to view channels from the Zee Turner bouquet. According to a release from Zee Turner Ltd, Hathway Cable subscribers from these cities will not be able to view around 33 channels offered by the TV broadcaster as Hathway has failed to pay subscription charges to Zee Turner.

“Despite the 21 days’ notice issued to Hathway on 15 January 2010, Zee Turner has exercised restraint in the interest of consumers, but the cable operator has been avoiding a resolution to the issue. Zee Turner is forced to look at the option of switching off the networks to protect the interest of its stakeholders,” said a Zee Turner spokesperson.

The channels that may go off air for Hathway customers include Zee TV, Zee Marathi, Cartoon Network, Pogo, HBO, CNBC TV 18, Zee Cafe, Zee Studio, Zee Cinema and 24 other channels.

Responding to an advertisement put up by Zee Turner in newspapers, Hathway’s president for finance and company secretary, Milind Karnik, said, “The advertisement contains the word ‘may’, which means that if we do not pay, then it will terminate the service. The negotiation is still going on. It (Zee Turner) is trying to create pressure by putting advertisements in newspapers.”

Last month, Zee Turner had issued a winding-up notice to Hathway, claiming pending dues of around Rs25 crore. According to media reports, Hathway’s Bengaluru division owes Rs3.5 crore to Zee Turner and its channels might not be available to these customers also if the operator does not pay up.

Zee Turner has also alleged that Hathway is not signing a new agreement even after it has been issued a public notice. The deal between the companies expired nearly a year ago, according to the Zee Turner spokesperson.

“Most of these agreements (for the Zee Turner bouquet of channels) expired in March 2009 and ever since, despite numerous efforts by Zee Turner, Hathway has not come forward to sign the agreements. Additionally, Hathway owes Zee Turner an amount of over Rs28 crore which is nearly six months overdue,” he said.

However, Hathway has a different explanation for the impasse. “There is a miscommunication of the deal amount between Zee Turner and Hathway, and that is the reason for not signing the deal. Once that gets sorted out, we are ready to sign the deal. We cannot quote the pending amount to be paid to Zee for Mumbai operations because in a few places, we have a joint-venture deal with other small cable operators,” said Mr Karnik.

Zee Turner also claims that there is widespread misreporting of subscriber figures in Hathway’s cable television business. “In the draft red herring (IPO) prospectus (of Hathway) filed with SEBI, they have mentioned that the total number of subscribers is nearly 2 million, and they are also advertising that they have 8 million subscribers; whereas for the cable business, they have declared only about four lakh (subscribers), thus concealing a large portion of their subscriber base,” said the Zee Turner spokesperson.

Earlier, ESPN Software (I) Pvt Ltd (ESPN) lodged a first information report (FIR) in the Janakpuri Police Station at New Delhi against Surinder Dhupal from Hathway for exhibiting and transmitting signals from ESPN without proper authorisation from it.

Hathway Cables is going through tough times; it had to wind up its cable TV operations in Chennai last year and is also facing operational problems in Tiruchirapalli. According to the red herring prospectus filed by Hathway for its ongoing IPO, Sun TV Network Ltd had filed criminal complaints against the company and its officers for copyright violations. 
 

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Mafatlal scion moves High Court to quash FIR

Ajay Mafatlal has moved the Bombay High Court to quash an FIR filed against him and cousin Shailaja Parekh for allegedly threatening brother Atulya and sister-in-law Sheetal

The feud in the Mafatlal family has taken a new turn with Ajay Mafatlal moving the Bombay High Court to quash a first information report (FIR) filed against him and cousin Shailaja Parekh for allegedly threatening brother Atulya and sister-in-law Sheetal.

After the demise of Yogendra Mafatlal in January 2005, the owner of Mafatlal Industries, his siblings, Ajay and Atulya, have been locked in a property dispute.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, Justice SC Dharmadhikari inquired on how an FIR could be lodged in a case in which offences were non-cognisable.

The court has asked the government pleader Shahji Shinde to ensure that the investigating officer remained personally present during arguments on Wednesday.

On 26 December 2007, Atulya and wife Sheetal had lodged a complaint with the Gamdevi police alleging that Ajay and Shailaja were threatening them.

Based on their complaint, the police filed an FIR under section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 II (criminal intimidation) of IPC.

Ajay had secured anticipatory bail but later withdrew it as the offences were bailable. The police did not arrest him but filed a charge-sheet before the Girgaum magistrate who took cognisance of the offences. Ajay was arrested and granted bail.

Ajay's counsel Sayaji Nangre argued in the High Court that these offences were non-cognisable and the police should not have filed the FIR. Besides, he argued, there was no material against Ajay in the charge-sheet. The counsel urged the court to quash the FIR.

Mr Nangre argued that the police could not investigate a non-cognisable offence till they seek permission from the magistrate which they had not done in this case.

The court may pass its order on Wednesday and has asked the investigating officer to remain present.

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SEBI settles Himachal Futuristic case with consent order

The market regulator has disposed of a case against Himachal Futuristic Communications for suspected involvement in rigging share prices in a case dating back to 1999-2001

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has disposed proceedings against Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL) in the 2001 share price manipulation case, with a consent order.

SEBI in an order CO/ID2/739/332/2010 dated 28 January 2010, said: "This consent order disposes of the above mentioned proceedings under Sections 11(4) (b) and 11B of SEBI Act, 1992 read with Regulation 11 of SEBI (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices relating to Securities Market) Regulations, 2003, pending against the applicants named above in the matter of Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd."

The market regulator said that HFCL, its promoters and associated entities had paid Rs10 crore towards settlement of the case, as per the recommendation of a High-Powered Committee constituted by SEBI.

"Accordingly, the applicants, without admitting or denying the charges, have conveyed their acceptance of the aforesaid recommendations vide their letter dated 30 December 2009 and have remitted a sum of Rs10,00,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Crore only) towards settlement charges vide demand drafts, payable at Mumbai," the consent order said.

The HFCL case dates back to the 1999 to 2001 period of the Ketan Parekh scam. Mr Parekh, the main accused in the fraud, allegedly rigged share prices of ten companies, including Zee Telefilms and HFCL. 

It is now common knowledge that Global Trust Bank (GTB), Zee Telefilms and HFCL were in cahoots with Mr Parekh and had all routed large sums of money to corporate entities connected with him. In 2001, SEBI had told the Joint Parliamentary Committee that Zee and HFCL had diverted Rs515 crore and Rs700 crore respectively to Mr Parekh.

After conducting investigations, SEBI, in 2004, sent show-cause notices to HFCL, its directors and associates. While the proceedings were in progress, on 31 May 2008 and 4 June 2008, HFCL proposed a settlement of the proceedings through a consent order. SEBI then constituted a high-powered committee which also recommended settling the issue if the applicants agreed to make payment of Rs10 crore towards settlement charges.

On 11 January 2010, the Delhi High Court also affirmed the terms of the settlement as recommended by the High-Powered Committee and approved by SEBI, following which the market regulator disposed proceedings against HFCL. (Read more about SEBI’s consent orders http://www.moneylife.in/article/3030.html and http://www.moneylife.in/article/2827.html
 

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COMMENTS

D. N. PRAKASH

7 years ago

It is a pity that such a settlement comes when we celebrate 60 years of our Republic. It is sad to note that high profile criminals are dealt with a kid glove and petty officials are charge sheeted and convicted. Where is the equality of law guaranteed under the Constitution?

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