MUMBAI: Delhi-based multi-system operator (MSO) Home Cable Network, which has for long been facing issues with Star Sports channels, has now written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking its intervention in the resolution of the matter, which first arose in November 2013, after the interconnection agreement between the MSO and Star Sports expired on 31 October, 2013.
Home Cable Network, in its letter to TRAI, has said that since expiry of the agreement with Star Sports, it has found abnormalities in the rates charged by the broadcaster. “We have been making representations to Star Sports executives, informing them that the rates charged on a per subscriber basis are not at par with the rates being charged by the network to various other MSOs. Due to this, our business is getting adversely affected,” reads the letter, a copy of which is in the possession of indiantelevision.com.
“We have always been asked by Star Sports representatives to either sign on the exaggerated subscriber base with CPS rates or sign up on RIO rates which again are five to ten times higher as compared to the rates offered by them to favoured MSOs,” the letter further states.
The move comes after the 10 February release of the TRAI regulation on content aggregators. “It was in this regulation that TRAI itself noticed irregularities in interconnection agreements. The regulation was an eye-opener, wherein MSOs like us were informed that the rates being charged from non-vertically integrated DPOs were in some cases higher by 62 per cent as compared to vertically integrated DPOs.
The TRAI also brought to our notice that the rates charged by broadcasters to smaller, non-vertically integrated DPOs were higher by about 85 per cent as compared to vertically integrated DPOs,” said Home Cable Network managing director Vikki Choudhry.
He informed that Home Cable Network has approached TRAI under clause 5.11 of the "Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Cable Television Systems) Regulations, 2012” to facilitate the “process of entering into an agreement between Home Cable and Star Sports with just and equitable terms and conditions which help in creating a level playing field between the competing MSOs.
The MSO has given a period of seven to ten days to TRAI to respond to its letter. “After the expiry of this tenure, we will approach The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against Star Sports,” Choudhry said.
In the case against Star Sports channels, Home Cable Network plans to make TRAI respondent number one and Star Sports respondent number two. “If TRAI is unable to create level playing fields, MSOs will start making the regulator a party in the disputes with the broadcaster,” Choudhry concluded.