CASE ANALYSIS – Competition Commission of India Vs Committee of Artists and Technicians of West Bengal Film and Television and Others

                      Supreme Court, (Civil Appeal 6691/2014dated 07.03.2017)


A TV serial was “Mahabharata” was produced in Hindi language, by M/S BRTV Mumbai, who further entrusted sole rights of the serial to Magnum TV serials (MTS), to dub, it is Bengali language. M/S Hart Video (HV) in turn was appointed by the MTS to do the same task and so was done. An agreement with the owners of “channel 10” and CTVN+ channel, was executed in order to telecast the dubbed version in the state of West Bengal.

The association of producers “Eastern India Motion Picture Association” (EIMPA) and Artists/Technicians “Committee of Artists and Technicians of West Bengal Film and Investors” (Coordination Committee), raised objections to the telecast of the same by the way of separate letters, almost containing the same concerns that entry of programs originally made in other languages, in the W. Bengal industry would hamper the production of local programs and serials in Bengali language and thereby would adversely affect the job of local producers and artists.

The appointed channels even received the threat from these associations that if the telecast of the serial is not stopped, then channels would face non-cooperation from the side of associations, to which channels almost bowed down. Observing the events, Mr Sajjan Khaitan, ‘informant’ here and also the proprietor of HV, enlightened the Competition Commission of India (CCI) about the same.


CCI, on the information received under Section 19 realized the existence of a prima facie case and therefore directed the Director General (DG) under section under Section 29(1) to investigate upon the alleged facts, which were found to be correct and relevant market was determined by him as “Film and Television industry of W. Bengal”.

Hence, issues framed by the CCI are as follows-

  1. Whether there were restrictions caused to the telecast of dubbed serial “Mahabharata” by the said associations.
  2. If yes, then whether those restrictions imposed by the associations are in contravention of the Competition Act 2002.

CCI on the perusal of the facts gathered by DG, answered the 1st fact in issue, in affirmative.

2nd Issue: Application of law to the findings-

  1. Associations of Enterprises – The said associations are trade unions in nature, notwithstanding which, comprises of the “enterprises” as defined in Section 2(h), by the virtue of the fact that the constituent members of the associations have been indulging in the activities relating to the production, distribution and exhibitions of the films. And therefore the said associations definitely fall within the ambit of “association of enterprises” as used under the Act.
  2. Agreement – the said enterprises as the members, take decisions on behalf of every such enterprise being engaged in similar kind of business in the state of W. Bengal, and also consult certain other organizations in order to safeguard the interest of the concerned enterprises, which further shows the collective intent of the entire associations, and fall within the ambit of Action in Concert” as given in Section 2(b).

Contravention of the Act-

Since, its proved that the associations were engaged in similar business as that of informant and the producer of original “Mahabharat” i.e. both the parties working at horizontal level, hence the action of the association attract the element of “Anti-Competitive Agreement” as specifically given under Section 3(3), since the associations by causing restriction on the telecast of dubbed serial, was limiting or controlling the production, supply of the serial, market of “Film and Television industry of W. Bengal” and provisioning of the services by the channels telecasting it, informant and the producer. Moreover, the said restrictions also prevented consumers from enjoying their “right to choose” and hence in totality it caused the “Appreciable

adverse effect” on the competition of relevant business in the relevant market, which is prohibited by Section 3 of the Act.


An appeal was filed in COMPAT under Section 53B, against the findings of CCI by the coordination committee only, wherein CCI, agreeing with the minority view of the CCI, set aside the order of the majority view of the commission and held the following opinions-

  1. Coordination Committee is a trade union, the activity of which does not itself constitute an economic activity, since they were raising simply their grievance legitimately which is protected under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, hence the association cannot be even termed as enterprise and further the question of “agreement does not arise”.
  2. The relevant market is not one as held by the CCI but, would be “Broadcast of TV Serial”. And coordination committee which comprised of the artists and technicians is therefore not on the same line of business as that of informant i.e. no horizontal business existed and hence the question of competition between them under Section 3(3) does not arise.
  3. Thus, CCI erred in holding the stated opinion.


The Supreme Court setting aside the order of the COMPAT, upheld the order of the CCI, further adding to the legal reasoning-

An entity may be an “enterprise” under section 2(h), regardless of its legal status, if it is indulged in the any of the prescribed economic activities under the provision. Apart from it, the associations could also be counted under the category of “person” as given under section 2(l), since it is much wider in scope. Section 3(3) says that “Any agreement entered into between enterprises or association of enterprises or persons or association of persons or between any persons and enterprise”, and the same provision further lays down three clauses, which talks about certain economic activities, if done by the said enterprise or person or any association comprising such enterprise or person through their concerted action, then they will be presumed to have caused “Appreciable adverse effect”. Now it is regardless of the fact that an association was indulging in such an activity for a charitable purpose, as far as such committed activity had the potential to earn profits.

The bench affirmed the CCI order that both the associations actually comprise enterprises who are engaged in the economic activity of production, distribution and exhibition of the films, who take decision on behalf of every such enterprise engaged in similar business, and their decisions reflect the collective intent if the whole association, and therefore activities of both the association are liable under Section 3.

The Supreme Court, further discussed the concept of relevant market as an economic one, as defined under section 2(r), which is to be determined in accordance with the factors of relevant geographic market and relevant product market as given under section 19(5) and other sub-factors given under section 19(6) and (7). The court stated that one apparent criterion to define it can be whether the alleged activity has actually caused an adverse effect on the competition with the enterprises carrying the business of similar nature. In present case, the investigated activities of the association surely caused the adverse effect since, the channels telecasting the same almost succumbed to the threats of the association and the fact that the entry of dubbed serial would pose the threat to the local producers and artists and enhance the competition in the state of W. Bengal itself is sufficient to conclude theFilm and Television industry of W. Bengal” as relevant market. Therefore the one held by COMPAT was very narrow.

Thereby, the apex court upheld the order of the CCI.

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