ESPN-Star Sports vs InCable: Sports broadcaster claims cable network is misleading subscribers

Last night at 9 pm it was EPSN Software which took the decision to switch off the transmission of both ESPN and Star Sports to one of the largest Indian MSOs InCableNet. The reason it claimed: the failure of InCable to sign a fresh service contract for the period commencing on 1 January 2002 after the monthly subscription rates for the channel were raised from Rs 16 to Rs 24. The earlier annual service contract with InCable expired on 31 December, 2001.

InCableNet immediately responded by flashing a message on the frequencies on which two channels were being transmitted that ESPN-Star had taken the decision to turn off its IRDs, despite a court order and advance payments being made to the broadcaster, adding that it would move the court on Monday. 

The riposte from ESPN Software came today. It issued a press release which said that "subscribers of InCable Network in Mumbai are being misled into believing false and baseless statements screened by its management the cable network.

The press release has ESPN Software vice-president - affiliate sales Sricharan Iyengar, saying that the InCable Network management is making completely baseless statements and is attempting to mislead their own viewers. There is no existing court order that prevents ESPN Software India from discontinuing the ESPN and STAR Sports services to InCable following the expiry of the service contract on December 31, 2001. Despite repeated efforts from our side for the past four weeks, InCable Network has not signed the new service contract for ESPN & STAR Sports. As there is no contract between ESPN Software and InCable Network for the period commencing January 1, 2002, the question of an advance payment as falsely alleged by InCable does not and cannot arise,

He adds: In our view, it is InCable which is holding its viewers to ransom and are actually serving self-interests in the guise of protecting public interest. InCable Network claims to service over 15.5 lakh (1.55 million) subscriber homes in Mumbai. However it directly pays us for only 1.5 lakh (150,000) homes which is less than 10 percent of the homes claimed to be serviced by the Network.

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