Television

7 Star sees red; claims absolute triumph in battle with ESPN-Star Sports

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7 Star Cable, respondent in the court case filed by ESPN Star, has taken umbrage against media reports (see ESPN-Star Sports vs 7 Star: Both claim victories) that have refused to accord it absolute victory in the matter.



According to Shamim Shaikh, a partner in the cable TV independent that operates in Mumbai's northern suburbs, the broadcaster has not reaped any benefit from the high court decree. The court, in its order asked the cable op to pay its outstanding dues to ESPN Software and allowed the broadcaster to cut off connections to hotels where its channels were being beamed through 7 Star.



Shaikh insists that 7 Star had never refused to pay the broadcaster its dues. In fact, he says that his company had made a payment by cheque much earlier to ESPN Star's Mumbai distribution head, which had been accepted. It was however returned by ESPN Star Sports later. "So, why is it claiming that it has won on this front?" he asks.



He adds that the court allowed it to furnish a bank guarantee for the amount that would have been payable had the contract been in force for the period from 22 August 2001 to 30 November 2001.



An acerbic Shaikh contends that all broadcasters' distribution agreements with cable ops are 'one-sided' and loaded in the formers' favour. The agreements usually include clauses that the rates can be changed arbitrarily, says Shaikh, and that cable ops often are not given a copy of the agreement.



He alleges that broadcasters often pick on cable ops only when there's an interesting telecast round the corner. "Didn't they know earlier that we had been showing their channels in hotels all this while?" he fumes.



Shaikh is also bitter about the claim of 100,000 subscribers put out by ESPN. Alleging that the broadcaster was making contradictory statements, he says that if they believed the subscriber base was so broad, why have they asked for disclosure of only 20,000 subscribers.



"Let them prove our subscriber base and then extract the exact dues from us," he says. "Last year, the broadcaster reduced our subscriber base from 8,000 to 7,000. Why did that happen? This year they want to increase it to 20,000? Why can't they be consistent?" he queries.

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