MUMBAI: The tug of war between cable ops and broadcasters shows no signs of slowing down. ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has discontinued its service to Hinduja's InCable.
The reason given by the broadcaster is the monies owed to it by Indus Ind Media and Communications Ltd (IMC), a subsidiary of Hinduja TMT which crossed the Rs 20 million mark for the four-month period; January - April. Meanwhile Star's Hathway, Zee's Siticable, Seven Star and independent affiliates will continue to receive ESS. InCable subscribers, however, will have to do without the ongoing TVS Cup in Dhaka as well as ESS' Summer Sports Bonnanza..
ESPN Software VP affiliate sales Sricharan Iyengar said: "Payments for the ESPN and Star Sports services have not been made even as InCablenet has been collecting money from its affiliates and subscribers. Hence, during the TVS Cup cricket series, we were left with no option but to inform the viewers that their favourite sports channels were likely to be switched-off if the dues are not cleared by IMC."
"Instead of clearing the outstanding payments, the management of InCablenet has decided to deprive their viewers of the ongoing exciting sports fest on their favourite sports network. Our repeated efforts have only resulted in receiving a very minor part payment," Iyengar added.
"Keeping consumer interest in mind, we will continue to make our best efforts to solve the problem with InCable Network so that viewers do not miss the interesting line up of sports we have for them. This includes the special programming we are doing on the batting legend Sachin Tendulkar who turns 30 on 24 April," Iyengar went on to say.
ESS also stated that InCablenet failed in the timely renewal of its contracts for Nagpur, Nashik, Ahmedabad,Vadodara and Indore leading to a non-availability of the two channels in these cities as well.
From this month onwards till March 2004, ESS will bring viewers over 11,000 hours of live coverage. The cricket coverage it will have will include South Africa's tour of Bangladesh; Australia's tour of the West Indies which is currently on; Zimbabwe's tour of England; Pakistan's tour Of England; followed by the triangular series between Zimbabwe, South Africa and England; and Sri Lanka's tour of the West Indies.