Television

ESS snaps signals to INCablenet

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NEW DELHI: The woes of the Hindujas-owned INCablenet continue as also internal churning.

 

Close on the heels of company COO Rajiv Vyas quitting the organisation, ESPN Software India today discontinued the signals of its popular sports channels, ESPN and Star Sports, to IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd. (IIMCL), a subsidiary of Hinduja TMT Ltd.



In an official statement, ESPN India said that this step has been taken as "IIMCL failed to pay routine monthly dues, despite repeated collection efforts." INCablenet is the cable arm of IIMCL. INCablenet's outstanding to ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. amount to Rs 70 million.



When contacted, an INCablenet spokesperson declined to comment saying that negotiations were currently underway and maintained that the blackout was restricted to Mumbai. As a result of the ESPN India move, millions of INCablenet subscribers in Mumbai will miss their popular sports channels. The television viewers in Mumbai being serviced by other cable networks like Hathway, Siti Cable, Seven Star and other independent affiliates will continue to receive ESPN Star Sports (ESS) services.



According to ESPN Software VP, affiliate sales, Sricharan Iyengar, "INCablenet has failed to pay the monthly subscription fees to ESPN Software despite written and verbal commitments from senior INCablenet officials, including the CFO of the company Mr. Srinivas Palakodeti."



Iyengar has pointed out that in a letter dated 27 August 2003 to ESPN Software India, Palakodeti had assured to pay ESS Rs 30.65 million, the outstanding amount then. However ESPN is yet to realise the money from INCablenet. Pointing out that "the outstanding, in the meanwhile, has risen to Rs 70.10 million", Iyengar added, "Keeping consumer interest in mind, we have been making and will continue to make our best efforts to solve the problem with INCablenet. Unfortunately, INCablenet continues to default in payment without any concern that its actions may deny viewers the interesting line up of sports we have for them."



Though ESS don't have the telecast rights for the ongoing tri-series between involving India, Australia and New Zealand, the channels will showcase the much-awaited Indian tour of Australia from December 2003 to February 2004. This series will see India and Australia play four tests, followed by 15 ODIs. India's loss to Australia at the final of the 2003 World Cup and Australia's defeat in the test series while touring India in 2001, has positioned the forthcoming India tour as a revenge series for both the countries.



ESS will also air the England tour of Bangladesh (two Tests and three one-dayers), apart from Pakistan's tour of New Zealand (two Tests and five ODIs) in December 2003, the West Indies tour of South Africa (four Tests and five ODIs) from December 2003 to Feb 2004, the Bangladesh tour of Zimbabwe (two Tests and three ODIs) in January 2004 and the South Africa tour of New Zealand (three Tests and five ODIs) in February 2004.



On the non-cricket front, ESS has rights to telecast the world's most popular soccer league, the English Premier League (EPL), UEFA Champions league and the Spanish Primera Liga.

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