IndiaCast UTV vs DishTV: Who really won?


MUMBAI:  It’s a battle that has both warring parties claiming victory. We are referring to the IndiaCast UTV Disney vs Dish TV scrap wherein each has been taking potshots at each other on an ‘on-request channel’ scheme that the platform has been running which involves the aggregators’ channels.

Both petitioned the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) for a resolution and judgment.

The matter was heard by the TDSAT today. IndiaCast’s pleas were:

*Declare that the ‘on request’ categorisations of IndiaCast UTV channels in its current form be declared null and void.

* Declare that the payment of monthly licence fees by DishTV be done in terms of TRAI regulations.

* Declare that the scrolls/crawls being run by DishTV on IndiaCast UTV is (sic.) absolutely illegal.

*Permanently restrain Dish TV from running any scroll in any manner whatsoever.

*Pass an ad interim ex-parte order directing Dish TV to pay licence fees to IndiaCast UTV on the basis of the number of subscribers of packages in which the aggregators channels are placed.

* Pass an ad interim order restraining Dish TV from, in any manner whatsoever switching off or blacking out the aggregator’s channels to subscribers, subscribing to the package in which the IndiaCast UTV channels exist.

DishTV’s plea was:

* IndiaCast UTV be restrained from issuing false, frivolous, and baseless alert notices to the subscribers of DishTV.

*Declare the alert notice issued by IndiaCast UTV as illegal, malafide and defamatory.

* Direct IndiaCast UTV to issue an unconditional and unqualified apology for publishing the wrong false and misleading alert notices to subscribers of DishTV.

* Direct IndiaCast UTV to issue a corrigendum in all the newspapers and channels with the same prominence where the alert notices have been published.

At the time of writing both claimed that the tribunal had ruled in their favour.

While IndiaCast UTV stated that the TDSAT has struck down the ‘on-request channel’ scheme, Dish TV said it has not, adding that it is going to continue with it - albeit with a rejoinder that it will be called an ‘a la carte on request channel scheme.’

IndiaCast UTV, on its part, has agreed to DishTV’s pleas to stop running the alert notices in newspapers and on air.

Sources in IndiaCast UTV say their fears about the scheme were that DishTV could have mis-utilised it by making its channels available in both the DTH operator’s base and other subscriber packs and also in its a la carte offerings.

If subscribers did not send an SMS confirming that they wanted the IndiaCast UTV channels, these would be dropped from their pack offerings, even as subscribers would continue paying as per earlier pack prices. Since subscribers would have unsubscribed, Dish TV would not be liable to make payments to IndiaCast UTV despite collecting the entire price for the pack (inclusive of the IndiaCast UTV channels).  This, IndiaCast UTV executives feared, would lead to a loss of revenues for them.

They point out to an earlier interview in which DishTV CEO R.C. Venkateish was quoted as saying that the ‘on request channel’ scheme “is not a la carte offering but a scheme that will run on existing packs. We intend to progressively classify a number of channels as ‘on request channels’.”

DishTV’s lawyers, however, clarified with the TDSAT today that the IndiaCast UTV channels would not be offered in all the various subscription packs that the operator offers but rather as a la carte offerings from 1 January 2014. And this is exactly what the aggregator was seeking, say IndiaCast UTV sources.

Earlier agreements between DishTV and IndiaCast UTV for 22 channels in its bouquet are slated to expire on 31 December 2013, while those for another 11 are slated to expire on 31 March 2014.

DishTV sent out an official statement, which said:

 “The TDSAT has disposed off the petition of IndiaCast UTV and has upheld the ‘on request DishTV’ scheme where the channels of IndiaCast UTV will be provided by DishTV to its subscribers on a la carte basis.  On the petition of DishTV, the TDSAT has also directed IndiaCast UTV to stop publishing advertisements against the ‘on request channel’ scheme of DishTV. We have also been allowed to run the scrolls publishing the ‘on request channels’ scheme by mentioning that the channels will be available on a la carte basis.”

We at indiantelevision.com don’t know if we have seen the last of the exchange of fisticuffs between the two. Let’s wait and watch how things pan out in the coming days.

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