The TDSAT stated that a streaming platform is different from a TV channel. The decision came after a complaint filed by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) against Star India. The AIDCF requested the tribunal to stop Star India from streaming cricket matches for free on its OTT platform, Disney+ Hotstar. The complaint argued that this amounted to unfair competition since the AIDCF pays to broadcast Star Sports while Star India was offering the matches for free on its streaming platform, which they believed violated regulations.
The federation sought an interim relief and requested the TDSAT to restrain the broadcast juggernaut from streaming the cricket matches for free or provide Star Sports for free to the AIDCF as well.
After carefully considering both sides, the tribunal declined to grant interim relief and ruled that, prima facie, an OTT platform is not a TV channel. Therefore, it is not covered under the specified provisions of TRAI’s 2017 regulations, as stated by the tribunal.
The TDSAT also observed that no irreparable loss will be caused to the AIDCF if the stay is not granted.
The bench, consisting of Justice Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel and Subodh Kumar Gupta, scheduled the next hearing for 18 December. They allowed the cable federation to create a list of customers who have subscribed to the Star Sports channel and submit it to the tribunal before the final hearing. The bench also granted permission for the petitioner to submit a rejoinder affidavit before the next hearing.
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