The news, on 22nd July 2017, that Delhi’s Patiala House Court had directed Delhi Police to register an FIR against Star India Pvt. Ltd. (SIPL) on a cheating complaint filed by the Jain TV-owned, Delhi-based Noida Software Technology Park Ltd (NSTPL) against SIPL wrt a broadcasting contract between the two companies, was pretty startling.
Having been working in and following — and occasionally writing about – the Media & Entertainment industry in India, I just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that NSTPL should have gone ahead and sought to press a cheating complaint against anyone. Why? Because, as Neelambar Patel, (a cable operator from Bharuch, Gujarat) has told me, this (NSTPL) is the same company which, ever since it started approaching the cable fraternity in India for its HITS initiative in 2013, had been alleged to have consistently shortchanged and under-serviced the cable operator fraternity to the extent that it caused the majority of its cable operators partners massive financial losses by the time it wound up in October 2015, and had as many as a reported 85 operators file complaints at TDSAT, to say nothing of multiple criminal cases.
Patel is a cable operator from Bharuch, Gujarat. Lured by the promises of NSTPL at its launch, Patel had partnered with two other small operators and together they had pooled in their savings, then sold land and family jewellery, and finally “picked up cash at high interest from the market” to put together the required corpus of “around Rs 30 lakh” to get the NSTPL Jain HITS service up and running. And, before October 2015, were financially crippled.
Patel alleges – as, he says, do most of nstpl’s erstwhile cable partners on whom, he says the company pulled the plug in october 2015 – that throughout their short, two-year association with it, they received zero delivery on commitments, and virtually no ground support
Patel alleges – as, he says, do most of NSTPL’s erstwhile cable partners on whom, he says, the company pulled the plug – that throughout their short, two-year association with it, they received zero delivery on commitments, and virtually no ground support.
“Whatever commitments (NSTPL) had made (to us cable operators), they did not fulfill those from the very beginning,” Patel told me. “Whatever commitment they made to us, would flop. They made commitments only to take money from us. (I believe that) To their employees also, they would only give (revenue) targets – ‘you have to bring in at least this much money’…
“On top of that, they never followed up on complaints received from the ground by cable operators (servicing their subscribers/TV homes) … Besides, the Jain HITS employees had no experience of having worked with cable operators (and did not understand the industry’s requirements). They never followed up on what the cable operators wanted or needed – there were no solutions forthcoming!… Even when they changed from one satellite to another, NSTPL did not even bother to inform us cable operators about the change. We had to call them to find out the new satellite coordinates,” Patel says (Listen to the phone call in the video below)
The humble, poor cable operators who couldn’t really comfortably afford to sign up for NSTPL’s HITS service, moved heaven and earth to collect the monies to invest in NSTPL, but were left stranded.
First, listen to the teleconversation I had with Neelambar Patel, below and then we’ll go on to read an excellent story that IndiaSamvad.com has filed on the subject of NSTPL and its allegations.
NSTPL ruined us cable operators: Neelambar Patel
The IndiaSamvad story
‘The Jains’ attempt to threaten STAR’
Two days back, one read a report on www.Indiasamvad.com, entitled ‘How Jains laid the best plans to take free HITS against STAR’, saying, ‘When Jains failed to intimidate Star through Delhi police, they secured an order of a judicial magistrate to register a criminal FIR against Star’. The story truly underlines how anything is possible, and how, as it succinctly put it, FIR seems to be the new legal document to intimidate a business rival’.
The Indiasamvad.com story said ‘Insiders in the Broadcasting Industry who were shocked at the registration of a criminal FIR against giant Star were of the view that NSPTL suffered huge loss by venturing in a business which was never a success in India. “The loss is significant. Jains should have realised that players like Zee had also procured HITS licence but yet did not opt for this technolgy. It was [a] bad business decision. And more worse is the fact that now they want Star to pay for the losses for which their own decision is to be blamed,” a media analyst told India Samvad.
As IndiaSamvad has reported, quoting a lawyer present during the hearing of the case at the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House, New Delhi, “In 2013 HITS failed due to tough licensing conditions and unfavourable market realities. It now appears that having failed in the business NSPTL is now seeking to threaten Star management by lodging criminal case to pay their losses.”
The India Samvad story reports that “Earlier in a media release, NSPTL claimed that Star has controlled and manipulated broadcast industry. A criminal case lodged against Star would bring justice and change in ongoing practice of leading TV channels, NSPTL added. However an official of Star had said, “… Star and its management adhere to every norm and comply with every possible regulation. Even in this case a thorough enquiry by Delhi police has found that Star made no breach of contract. The question of cheating NSPTL does not arise.”
Well, I also hope thatNSTPL pays for the lies cable operator Neelambar Patel avers it fed to hundreds of his professional bretheren.