Star feed back on air for Siti subscribers in Delhi

MUMBAI: Star's bouquet of channels, which had been off air in the Delhi region for MSO Siticable's subscribers since 24 January, began beaming again on Thursday in what may well be a temporary truce in an increasingly high stakes turf war.

Since pending dues have been paid up by most Siti JVs (joint venture partners) and suboperators, the feed will be switched back on all across Delhi, Star's corporate communications head Yash Khanna said. There are only a few suboperators who are still to pay up, Khanna added.

Speaking for the other side, an industry source close to Siti said Star came around not over any dues issue but because the blackout of Star's feed was hurting their channels' TRP ratings in the Delhi and Ludhiana (Punjab) areas which in turn was leading to increasing pressures from their advertisers.

The differing statements indicate that the problem is a larger one of how big MSOs and channels conduct business. The present dispute had its roots in the issue of paid connectivity which is a recurring one (recall the recent spat between Sony Entertainment Television and Hathway Cable in which Star has a 26 per cent stake) as well as who the various JVs ally with. Siti has a 35 per cent cable home share in Delhi because of the 77 JVs who are allied to it. At the height of the dispute there was media reports that JVs were defecting to the Star camp, a claim Siti vehemently denied.

Its a war of attrition that is going on and it may well lead to the government stepping in to regulate the whole business.

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