Bar on broadcast of dubbed TV shows violates Competition Act: SC
The Supreme Court in a significant ruling has stated that anyone attempting to stop exhibition of dubbed films or dubbed serials in the name of protecting a language would be guilty of violating the Competition Act, 2002.
The bone of contention before the SC was the telecast of TV serial 'Mahabharat" dubbed from Hindi to Bengali on different TV channels of Bengal.
This was unacceptable to the Eastern India Motion Picture Association (EIMPA) and the Coordination Committee of Artists and Technicians of West Bengal Film and Television Investors.
EIMPA and the Coordination Committee felt that telecasting of serials produced in other languages but dubbed in Bengali would adversely affect producers, artists and technicians in Bengal. They apprehended that it would deter production of such serials in Bengali.
Both wrote letters to channels asking them to stop telecast of 'Mahabharat' dubbed in Bengali citing "interest of healthy growth of film and TV industry in Bengal".
They reminded channel owners of a 13-year-long convention in Bengal not to telecast any serial produced in another language and dubbed in Bengali.
The threat was also extended to two TV channels that if the telecast was not stopped, their channels would face non-cooperation from EIMPA and the Coordination Committee. Telecast of the serial was stopped after a few episodes.
The Competition Commission of India, on a complaint by the owner of one of the channels, found the threat anti-competitive.
However, the Competition Appellate Tribunal held that the threat did not throttle competition. The CCI moved the SC against the tribunal's decision.
The SC bench agreed with the CCI and said that the boycott threat was aimed to prevent the two channels from pursuing their legitimate commercial activities.
OUR TAKEThe decision of the SC is justified as such acts would encourage regional conflicts that can never be healthy for a democracy like India. Strict measures should be taken against people who try to create such conflicts just for their personal profits. However, the government should try and enact laws that strike a balance between the interests of state broadcasters as well as other broadcasters so as to avoid such conflicts in future.
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