InCableNet claims ESS misleading public

MUMBAI: Seems like Hinduja Group's MSO InCableNet has finally decided to even the scores with ESPN Software India.

In a point-by-point rejoinder issued today, InCableNet accused ESPN Star Sports (ESS) of misleading viewers and the cable-operator fraternity in general, "with half-truths".

InCableNet reserves the right of defending its commercial interest in court and will also seek to recover damages caused by ESPN's actions, it says in a company release.

The MSO's heated response comes after ESS' statement yesterday, that it has filed a winding up petition against InCableNet in the Bombay High Court. 

In the release, the MSO states that ESS' version of the commercial negotiations that transpired between the two companies from May 2003 till first week of November 2003, is one-sided.

"InCableNet has not yet been served a copy of the winding up petition prior to its filing in the court, which is the standard corporate practice," the release states.

Referring to the letter sent to ESS by IncableNet CFO Srinivas Palakodeti on 23 August, the release states, that the company had in fact, laid down three terms and conditions which ESS chose to ignore in its public statements.

The conditions were: 

* Withdrawal of complaints/FIR's filed by ESS

* Signing of the term sheet/agreement for CAS arrangement

* and that ESS agrees and takes steps to ensure that such defaulting operators do not migrate to other networks. It also insisted that ESS agreed to take steps on its discretion as may be necessary such as not issuing new decoders, switching off dummy operators in order to protect InCableNet and to ensure that business interests are not adversely affected.

InCableNet says, subsequent to this letter, commercial negotiations and exchange of correspondence have taken place till November 2003.

The MSO says that when ESS switched off signals to subscribers in Mumbai and Delhi on 10 November, they issued a letter to ESS expressing deep shock for the loss caused. However, ESS failed to respond to the letter in which InCableNet had requested them to adopt a constructive approach and switch on the signals.

InCableNet accuses ESS of having chosen to take an unconscionable step without any notice or provocation whatsoever, and without considering their will to discuss issues across the table.

Finally, the release says that they suspect ESPN of resorting to coercive measures as a prelude to increasing the rates on eve of a cricket season. "A similar step had been taken by ESPN on the occasion of the last World Cup cricket matches," it specifies.

INCableNet states their digital CAS service is completely ready and a large number of set-top-boxes await deployment in Mumbai. "Failure of leading broadcasters like ESS to conclude CAS agreements has led to non-implementation of CAS and confusion in the minds of viewers. They must be made aware that their pay channel bills will again rise in January 2004 due to annual increase by broadcasters," the release concludes

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