Who became ‘Crorepati’? Star Plus, Airtel told to shell out Rs.10 mn

September 12th, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) A consumer commission has imposed a fine of Rs.10 million on mobile service providers Airtel and entertainment TV channel Star Plus for “unfair trade practice” during the game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati”.Headed by Justice M.B. Shah, the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, said that both companies violated the consumer protection act “in conducting the ‘Har Seat Hot Seat’ contest, which was a part of the show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, and thereby adopted an unfair trade practice.”

“Star Plus and the Bharti Airtel Ltd are directed to pay jointly damages of Rs.10 million. They are hereby directed to deposit the said sum of Rs.10 million with the registrar of this commission, who in turn, shall deposit the same to the credit of the Consumer Welfare Fund,” Justice Shah observed Thursday.

The commission observed that on the basis of the admitted fact that Bharti Airtel received 58 million SMS text messages, it goes without saying that this practice resulted in an increase in their business.

Further, normal charge of the 58 million SMSs would have fetched only a maximum of Rs.58 million. As against this, they received Rs.139.2 million from SMS messages, the commission observed.

The participants who sent the answer using Airtel’s SMS service, were required to pay Rs.2.40 per message, which was higher than the normal charges.

The commission further said: “the excess revenue (Rs.139.2 million minus Rs.58 million) comes to Rs.81.2 million. Out of this, they distributed prizes amounting to Rs.10.4 million. Still, the surplus revenue comes Rs.70.8 million.”

The commission praised the Society of Catalysts, a non-government organisation for filing the complaint and thus highlighting the unfair trade practice.

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