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FTV goes free-to-air, upsets MEN

Anusha S in Mumbai | May 28, 2003 12:38 IST

French television channel, Fashion TV has finally become free-to-air (FTA) and is beaming off Asiasat 2 satellite.

For the last over a month, FTV was transmitting both free-to-air and encrypted signals. With this move, FTV becomes the first private pay channel to become FTA in the run-up to the Conditional Access System rollout deadline of  July 14.

FTV's spokesperson said: "As of today, FTV is being broadcast in the clear on Asiasat 2."

In addition, the channel is now being distributed by Worldwide Channel, part of the Worldwide Group. The new contract has been inked directly by the FTV headquarters in Paris.

The new distribution company will also be in charge of several programing initiatives to be launched shortly.

But FTV's move has upset  its original distribution partners, Modi Entertainment Network. FTV apparently went free-to-air despite its contract with MEN being valid. The contract said that the FTV distribution tie-up with MEN was exclusive.

According to MEN's legal council, "There's a dispute between FTV Paris and Modi Entertainment Network regarding their agreement for distribution, marketing, advertising sales, merchandising and licensing, to which Modi has the sole and exclusive right for India and the SAARC Region."

MEN's legal council explained that FTV did not abide by the fundamental premise of the agreement -- that the signal must be encrypted and not free-to-air.

Consequently, MEN approached the Delhi High Court which granted an interim order on  May 19 directing FTV, Paris to abide by the existing agreement.

Under this, FTV Paris had to re-encrypt the signal immediately and could not enter into any distribution, ad sales, marketing, merchandising and licensing agreements with anyone else for the region.

However, FTV continued to keep its signal despite  the high court order, claimed MEN's council. The Modis have now filed another petition in the Delhi high court which will be heard next week. In this spat, however,  fashion buffs are not complaining.

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