SPN’s riposte to Tata Sky yanking off its channels

SPN said in a statement that the broadcaster has not upped its channel prices


MUMBAI: A commercial dispute with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and TV Today group has left Tata Sky’s subscribers in a rather tricky position. Many users of the DTH operator complained on social media platforms, especially on Twitter, about the unavailability of these channels. Tata Sky has cited the failure to arrive at commercial negotiation with broadcasters as the reason. According to the Harit Nagpal-led company’s official Twitter statement, it has dropped 27 channels and services from 1 October.

From Monday evening onwards, Twitter was flooded with complaints from Tata Sky subscribers. With several viewers missing out on the much-anticipated Kaun Banega Crorepati episode. Not just that, several other users have expressed their dissatisfaction over not being able to watch their favourite channel despite having legit subscriptions.

““Commercial negotiations with the broadcasters broke down as what they were seeking would have forced us to hike our prices. Hence we have had to drop a few channels while keeping the popular ones on. We request our subscribers to bear with us, as we are doing this in their best interest”, Tata Sky CEO & MD Harit Nagpal said.

However, the viewers were asked to give a missed call on certain numbers for activation of the channels at “no additional cost”. While some consumers said they could watch the channels after doing so, most stated that calling was futile as it did not lead to activation of the service.

On the other hand, SPN has claimed that the broadcaster has not asked for increasing channel prices. “We at SPN have not increased our channel rates over the last few years. Therefore, we are surprised at TATA SKY’s unilateral decision to drop 22 of our channels,” they commented on Twitter.

The broadcaster issued a public notice in leading newspapers. Later in the day, it also issued an official media statement along the same lines.

“We would like to reassure Tata sky subscribers that the SPN channels are available under the TRAI  mandated Reference Interconnect Offer (ROI). All they have to do is call Tata Sky and demand that the channels be provided to them,” SPN said in official statement.

Senior journalist and consulting editor TV Today Rajdeep Sardesai also commented on the issue:

 Last month, SPN issued disconnection notice to direct to home (DTH) operator Tata Sky for non-renewal of agreement. It was said in the caution notice that Sony and TV Today Network channels would be discontinued. The distribution arm of SPNI distributes the TV Today Network channels too.

This is not a new development in Indian TV industry. Though broadcasters, MSOs and DTH operators speak about putting viewers’ interest first, the recent examples don’t speak in favour of that. Agreements being left to market forces lead to such stand-offs from time to time. As a result, consumers are often at the risk of missing out on watching their favourite TV content.

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