“Re-transmission of channels through Cable TV Networks” is a separate relevant Product Market

Competition Commission of India: CCI in its closure order in a case against TN Cable TV Corporation for alleged abuse of dominance noted that there are different mechanisms for transmitting/ re-transmitting signals of TV channels e.g. Terrestrial, Cable TV (analog and digital), Direct To Home (DTH), Head-end In The Sky (HITS), Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) and Mobile TV etc. These platforms cannot be treated similar and can be divided in different market based on economic affordability and their reach to the masses. In the present case the informant, a broadcaster disseminating TV signals through cable TV and DTH, alleged that Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (“OP”), a state owned Multi System Operator (MSO), is charging unfair and discriminatory prices and has blacked out the channel of the informant. OP has deliberately chosen not to sell/ fix price for the prime band which is the most precious band in the analog cable TV network. It alleged that OP has limited and restricted the choice of the consumers and thereby caused adverse effect to competition to favour the channels of a particular political class.
The Commission held that the relevant product market in the present case would be “Re-transmission of channels through Cable TV Networks”. The OP is found to be in dominant position in this relevant product market in the state of Tamil Nadu except city of Chennai. (Chennai was separated from relevant geographic market because the city is covered under Digital Addressable System of the Government of India). However, the Commission observed that determination of price charged by the OP was done through tender process in terms of the policy of Government of Tamil Nadu, therefore it cannot be termed to be unfair and discriminatory. The closed the matter noting that no prima facie case is made out to order investigation. It is also noteworthy that a writ petition filed by the informant against the conducts of the OP is sub judice before the Madras High Court. [Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam v. Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation, [2015] CCI 145, decided on 29.09.2015]

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