The Zee Media Corporation has moved the Delhi High Court challenging an order issued by the Centre that effectively barred the company from broadcasting ten of its channels, The Print reported on Wednesday.
On September 23, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrew permission to the news broadcaster to uplink to the Ku-band frequency on the G-SAT-15 satellite. The orders meant that the company could no longer broadcast ten of its regional channels that appeared on DD Free Dish, a direct-to-home service.
The ministry, in its order, said that it had received complaints that Zee tried to access DD Free Dish and its audiences without paying a mandatory auction fee.
In its petition filed on September 26, Zee described the Union government’s order as draconian, and said that it violated the principles of natural justice, Mint reported.
“The very complaints on the basis of which the impugned order has been passed have not been shared till date with the petitioners,” the company said. “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.”
The petition claimed that the order was “actuated by malice” and was aimed at causing unlawful losses to Zee and unlawful gains to its rivals.
The channels that were barred were 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).
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that these channels were available on Doordarshan’s direct-to-home platform due to the proximity of the transponders of DD FreeDish and Dish TV on the G-SAT-15 satellite.
It had noted that neither DD FreeDish nor Dish TV had encrypted their signals.
Zee said in its petition that direct-to-home transmission guidelines require all licence holders to encrypt their signals, and that Prasar Bharati could carry out the encryption to avoid technical anomalies.