Home Cable claims it has issued legal notice to ESPN

Home Cable Network Ltd today said it had issued a legal notice to ESPN Software India Ltd. for releasing on 9 October what it claimed was a defamatory press release against it. It also said it had sent a similar notice to financial daily Business Standard for publishing the press release without cross-checking.

The ESPN release stated Delhi's district court had on the same day ruled in favour of the sports channel in a case filed by the Delhi-based cable network.

Home Cable today issued a press statement giving its version of events and said "the court case had been amicably settled between the parties before the district court and transmission of the ESPN and Star Sports channels to Home Cable was restored by ESPN Software India Ltd."

Home Cable contends that despite the settlement before the court, ESPN Software had incorrectly represented to the press that it had won the case.

Home Cable says it had entered into a services contract with ESPN Software for receiving signal of ESPN and Star Sports channels for its viewers. It had been paying regularly an amount of Rs 38,400 towards monthly subscription fee for the ESPN and Star Sports channels. In addition, installments towards the IRD decoders were also being paid regularly to ESPN Software.

On 5 October 2001, ESPN Software, without any notice, demanded Rs 16,000 from Home Cable and threatened that it would disconnect the ESPN and Star Sports channels in case their demand was not met, the statement says. Since the demand of ESPN Software was without prior notice and not in accordance with the terms agreed upon, Home Cable did not pay up, the statement says.

The same evening the ESPN and Star Sports channel feeds were disconnected. Home Cable moved court the next day seeking a permanent injunction against ESPN Software and restoration of the ESPN and Star Sports channel, the statement says .

The court on 6 October issued a notice to ESPN Software and its agent Arjun Enterprises (distributes ESPN and Star Sports in Delhi). Their legal representatives appeared before the court on 8 October. The judge adjourned the matter for filing of written statement, reply and disposal of the application for interim injunction filed by Home Cable to 9 October.

On 9 October a compromise proposal was put forward by ESPN Software which HomeCable, keeping the interest of its valued subscribers, accepted, the statement says. The case was withdrawn after an undertaking given by ESPN Software to restore the ESPN and Star Sports Channel by 2 p.m. on 10 October.

ESPN spokesperson when queried about the notice, reiterated that the dispute was settled only after Home Cable gave an undertaking that henceforce it would not provide unauthorised feeds of ESPN and STAR Sports signals to hotels or similar establishments. Further, Home Cable also agreed to abide by all the terms of the existing contract and settled all outstanding dues in court before the feed was restored, the spokesperson asserted.

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