ESPN back on Hathway

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The spat between Hathway Datacom and ESPN Star Sports has been thrashed out --- seemingly for the time being --- and the channels are back on former's cable networks at most places, much to the relief of viewers who could watch the Australia-West Indies one-dayer on Star Sports today.

Confirming the development, a senior executive of the Rajan Raheja-controlled Hathway told today, "The issue has been sorted out between the two parties and part payment has been made."

A memorandum of understanding too has been signed that dwells on the future course of relationship with increased rates and the modalities for payment of the remaining part of amount that ESS said Hathway owed to it.

Pointing out that Hathway has agreed upon a fresh annual contract with ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. late last evening after the MSO cleared "all outstanding issues, including payments," Iyengar today said, "Viewers will be able to watch ESPN and STAR Sports on Hathway's networks. This is a positive development and we will make best efforts to ensure that that viewers do not have to go through a period of black out like this. "

ESS had discontinued services of its two channels to Hathway cable network in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ludhiana due to non-payment of dues amounting to Rs 70 million, ESPN Software India sales and marketing vice president Sricharan Iyengar had said early December.

With the ESPN-backed Premier Hockey League getting underway in Hyderabad yesterday at a glittering opening ceremony, ESS would want that Hathway subscribers are not robbed of excitement from a reformatted hockey game.

Apart from PHL, ESS monthly calendar includes a triangular cricket series amongst Pakistan, West Indies and Australia in Australia, five ODIs from Bangladesh in the Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh play off, starting 20 January, the South Africa-England cricket tussle, the Australian Open that gets underway this month and English Premier League, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup, the Spanish Primera Liga and also the Tiger Cup.

Earlier, Hathway Cable & Datacom chief executive officer K Jayaraman had claimed that the ESS assertions on outstanding as "baseless and wrong."

However, it is learnt that the ESS services to Asianet in Kerala are yet to be restored as the MSO, reportedly, owes Rs. 25 million to the broadcaster. Asianet, however, has got a shot in the arm from the sector regulator few days back that directed Zee Turner, in an another case, to restore its services to Asianet.

The annual service agreement between ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. and Hathway has also expired on 30 November in Delhi and the agreement in Mumbai expired in December.

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