Broadcast tribunal TDSAT on Tuesday directed sports channel ESPN -- the official broadcaster of ICC World Cup 2011 - not to disconnect signals to six hotels and restaurants till the next date of hearing.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) bench headed by its chairman justice S B Sinha asked the global sports broadcaster to not to disconnect signals.
TDSAT has also directed ESPN to file its response within two weeks and posted matter for hearing on February 25.
The tribunal s direction follows a petition filed by hotels and restaurants associations challenging the demand of higher cable rates by ESPN.
Establishments including Hotel Airlines International, Gaylord Restaurant, Soul Fry Bar and Kitchen have submitted that the demand was against the tariff fixed by the sectoral regulator Trai.
ESPN which has three channels -- ESPN Star Sports and ESPN Star -- had issued notices to various establishments and demanded fresh agreements as they were not entitled to receive and transmit cable signals of ESPN without obtaining a license from it. It has also threatened to disconnect the signals if they failed to do so.
Senior counsel Ramji Srinivasan appearing for the associations said there was no restriction on hotels and restaurant for receiving signals either from cable operators or DTH service providers.
"There is no prohibition under any of the notification issued by the Trai for such hotels and restaurants to receive signals from either cable operators or DTH service providers and there is no requirement for obtaining license from the broadcasters or cable operators," Srinivasan said.
He added that the threats had been given at a time when Cricket World Cup was to start. He further said that there was a news report that the broadcaster was asking Rs 25 000 per TV for each year.
Srinivasan said all hotels and restaurants -- other than three star and above heritage hotels and other commercial establishments having more than 50 rooms -- are protected by price ceiling on cable tariffs fixed by Trai and were only liable to pay like other consumers.
However it was opposed by V N Ganpathy appearing for ESPN who said that there was no complaint to Trai for the violation of its notification.