DD Sports cuts signal to Hathway in Mumbai

MUMBAI: DD Sports is suddenly sporting the kind of aggro shown by private broadcasters like rival ESPN Star Sports in protecting its turf.

Almost in tandem with extracting an injunction from the Delhi High Court preventing ESS from airing a daily highlights package of the ongoing India-West Indies cricket series, DD Sports yesterday switched off its feed to Hathway Cable and Datacom in Mumbai and some parts of Maharashtra.

The reason: the Star India-backed MSO's refusal to accept DD Sports' recent monthly subscription price hike from Rs 7.15 to Rs 8.95.

Left hanging in between the two antagonists is the viewer, who has been hit with a double whammy in that not only is he/she missing out on the cricket action but also the ongoing Asian Games in Busan.

The prime mover behind both the court injunction as well as the switch off is the DD Sports distributor Modi Entertainment Network (MEN). Hathway executives have been quoted as saying that the DD Sports signal was switched off by MEN after they refused to pay the "arbitrary price hike of nearly 30 per cent."

"MEN is the single distributor of DD-Sports, and this month the government hiked the monthly broadcasting fee from Rs 7.15 to Rs 8.95, which Hathway did not pay, so this situation has developed,"MEN vice-president, Alok Govil was quoted as saying by the Financial Express. "Moreover it is not an arbitrary price hike as they have always hiked cable broadcast fares during October," Govil added.

An interesting twist to the sequence of events is that Hathway's hopes of withstanding consumer pressure by banking on ESPN and STAR Sports telecast of daily highlights have been dashed by the Delhi High Court injunction that says no part of any ongoing match could be telecast in any form within the Indian territory.

This is likely to increase the pressure on Hathway to reach a settlement. And the battle is widening in its ambit. Hathway has retaliated by putting Ten Sports (which is also distributed by MEN through group company Cable Distribution Network) off air on its network.

But all this might well backfire on Hathway. Consumers are reportedly peeved because monthly subscriptions have recently been hiked by Rs 50 on an average and they fail to understand why Hathway cannot carry DD Sports. The switching off of Ten Sports looks like only increasing the resentment among consumers.

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