Television

ESPN-Star Sports vs 7 Star: Both claim victories

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The legal brawl between Mumbai cable TV independent 7 Star Cable and pay TV sportscaster ESPN Star Sports over payments to the latter is far from over.





ESPN Software India has said it is going to take the dispute to an arbitration panel and that it may move the court once again if 7 Star continues to breach its contract. 7 Star says it is going to continue to take the ESPN-Star Sports feed from other cable ops with which it has alliances, even if the sportscaster continues to keep its integrated-receiver decoder box switched off.





"We have already paid the arrears for a month and 21 days and also deposited the bank guarantee for the remainder period with the court within the timeframe directed by it, " says Raja, one of the promoters of 7 Star. "We are free to tap the two channels from InCable or any other provider who we choose to affiliate with. The court has not issued any order restraining us from airing the two channels once we meet the conditions it has set for us. "



So far both claim to have registered victories. While ESPN-Star Sports says 7 Star has been forced to pay up all its arrears, the latter says the former has reportedly not been able to prevent it from retransmitting the two channels to hotels that it services. "We have told them to discontinue the service to 1,518 rooms in hotels that take a cable TV feed from 7 Star's headend," says another partner Shamim Shaikh. "We do not have the technical capability to stop doing so. The court has agreed with us."



According to Raja, the network is willing to come to an understanding in the cause of the cable TV industry, if the sportscaster network does not stay adamant about the subscriber base it wants to be paid for.



Says he: "We would like them to gradually up the subscriber base for which we pay and not drastically as has been proposed. An increase from 7,000 paid subs to 20,000 is too drastic a jump. If they are not open to a phased increment of subs, then let them hike the subscription fees levied per sub. Let ESPN-Star not do both: increase the subscriber base and even the sub fees. Hopefully it will come to a settlement. This industry is about relationships, let's maintain them."



The case looks more like a Mexican standoff and the final verdict from this arbitration could probably have far reaching consequences for broadcasters and the cable TV industry.



To read more about the dispute click here

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