CCI slaps over Rs8-cr penalty on cable TV operator Fast Way Group

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a fine of over Rs8 crore on multi system operator Fast Way Group for using its dominance in the cable TV service in Punjab and Chandigarh, in violation of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.

The commission passed the order on a complaint filed by Kansan News Private Limited, a broadcaster of news and current affairs TV channel, 'Day and Night News' which has operations in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the union territory of Chandigarh.

CCI imposed penalties on Fast Way group entities Fast Way Transmission Pvt Ltd, Hathway Sukhamrit Cable & Datacom Pvt Ltd and Creative Cable Network Pvt Ltd, equivalent to 6 per cent of their average turnover for the last three preceding financial years, which works out to Rs80,401,141.

The Fast Way Group, which has more than 85 per cent of the total subscribers in Punjab and Chandigarh, abused its market power to deny the complainant (Day and Night News) the opportunity for transmission of its channel on their network and has thereby effectively denied it access to the market, CCI said in its order.

Almost every broadcaster, including Day and Night News, is dependent on the Fast Way Group's network. The consumers of cable TV in Punjab and Chandigarh are also hugely dependent on the Fast Way Group. They do not have any effective substitute to switch over to the other network, CCI observed.

CCI has directed the contravening multi service operators to deposit the penalty amount within 90 days and to 'cease and desist' from indulging in anti-competitive practices which have the effect of denial of market access as discussed in the order.