A parabolic antenna stands a complex in New Delhi. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

CCI To Probe Star India, Sony Pictures For Alleged Unfair Practices

The Competition Commission of India has ordered a probe against broadcasters Star India and Sony Pictures Network India for allegedly indulging in unfair business practices with regard to pricing of television channels.

The regulator has ordered a detailed investigation on a complaint filed by Noida Software Technology Park Ltd., which is into the business of satellite communication.

In its order, the CCI has directed its investigation arm Director General to probe whether Star India and Sony Pictures Network India refused to deal with Noida Software Technology by way of price discrimination. The DG has also been directed to look into the role of the persons or officers who were responsible for the conduct of business at the the time of the alleged contravention.

Citing a judgement of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal(TDSAT), the fair trade regulator said that broadcasters, despite regulatory oversight, had the ability to discriminate among distributors and use Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) based agreements as a mechanism of refusal to deal. The CCI also noted that such agreements are prohibited under the Competition Act.

All similarly situated distributors are to be offered the same non-discriminatory prices by broadcasters in accordance with the RIO.

Noida Software Technology has a ‘Head-End In The Sky’ (HITS) license to establish, install, operate and maintain HITS project for digital cable services in India. The company is also a distributor of television channels. A HITS operator retransmits television content to its local cable operators via satellite.