ESPN-Star Sports win this round; court orders InCablenet to pay for 175,000 homes

The Mumbai High Court, in an interim order passed this afternoon, directed InCablenet to pay ESPN Software India for 175,000 subscriber homes.

InCablenet, in its version of the turn of events, said the court had ordered ESPN and Star Sports to restore the signals to the multisystems operator by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, pending the final hearing of the application filed by Incablenet.

As per the court's ruling, InCablenet was directed to deposit in court a sum of Rs 400,000 per month for an additional 25,000 subscriber homes over and above RS 2.4 million which InCablenet was paying under the contract for 150,000 subscriber homes, an ESPN release said.

The court further directed InCablenet to pay arrears for the months of May and June 2001, RS 4.8 million, within three days and a sum of RS 800,000 for additional 25,000 connections for the months of May and June 2001 to be deposited in court in seven days. The High Court has permitted ESPN to withdraw the aforesaid sum of RS 800,000 by furnishing an undertaking.

Incablenet has been directed to continue to pay for 175000 subscriber homes till further orders in the aforementioned manner. "InCablenet claims to service over 1.55 million homes in Mumbai to its advertisers and they were paying us for only 1.5 lakh homes which is less than 10 per cent of the actual homes claimed to be serviced by the MSO. We are happy with the Mumbai High Court order," Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN Software, said.

InCablenet on its part said it was moving the court against Star's decision on Monday to switch off its feed to InCablenet over a dispute similar to the one it has had with ESPN-Star Sports. Rajiv Vyas, president, INCablenet said the court's attention would be drawn to the statement Star's executive V-P, Arun Mohan, had made in an interview broadcast by CNBC on Monday. Mohan had reportedly said that Star was demanding an increase in the number of subscribers by more than 150 per cent (to 375,000 from the present 150,000). Mohan had openly stated in the same interview that it was their intention to form a cartel of pay channels to extract higher charges from television viewers, Vyas said. "It is high time that the government took note of such monopolistic actions of the pay channels coercing customers to pay more" Vyas said.

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