Tata Sky and Zee Turner haggle on price

NEW DELHI: Tata Sky’s talks with Zee Turner for its bouquet of channels have got stalled on the issue of price.

While India’s second pay digital platform Tata Sky has evinced interest in the first two of the three bouquets of Zee Turner for Rs 42, the latter is insisting all its 29 channels should be taken.

According to sources close to the negotiations, Zee Turner has conveyed that it’s ready to give all its channels to Tata Sky’s DTH platform for Rs 74 per subscriber, which is 50 per cent of the price that cable operators pay for the channels.

Bouquet 1 of Zee Turner comprises Zee TV, Zee Cinema, Zee News, Zee Studio, Zee Bengali, Zee Gujarati, Zee Marathi, Zee Punjabi, Cartoon Network, Reality TV, CNBC, CNN, Zee Café, Zee Trendz, ETC, ETC Punjabi, Zee Jagran, Zee Smile, Zee Telgu and Zee Music..

The second bouquet includes HBO, Pogo, Awaaz, VH1 and Zee Business. Zee Turner is soft bundling Zee Sports at a price benefit.

The third bouquet, called Breakfree, consists of Zee Action, Zee Premier and Zee Classic, which air movies of different genre and are primarily available on Dish TV DTH platform.

Interestingly, Zee Turner wants to keep Zee Sports out of the negotiations with Tata Sky, saying a deal for the sports channel --- holders of cricket rights for matches to be played by India on non-ICC recognised venues --- could be done separately.

According to the sources, Zee Turner has reasoned that its demand is based on a recent ruling of a disputes tribunal in Dish TV vs Star case wherein Star was asked to make available its channel to Dish at Rs 27 per subscriber, which is 50 per cent less than the price cable ops pay.

Zee Turner has further said that in the Dish vs Star case, when Dish had wanted select channels of Star, the Hong Kong-based broadcaster was unwilling to accede to the proposal.

Extending the same logic, Zee Turner has conveyed to Tata Sky that it would have to take all its channels.

However, Tata Sky is only interested in the first two bouquets of Zee Turner for a price of Rs 42 per subscriber per month.

On August 8, while announcing the commercial launch of Tata Sky service in 300 cities, company’s MD and CEO Vikram Kaushik had admitted that talks with Zee Turner had not been concluded.

Amongst the 55-odd channels being offered by Tata Sky presently to its subscribers, Zee and Turner channels like Zee TV, Zee Sports, Cartoon Network and Pogo and some third party products like HBO, Reality TV, Awaaz and CNBC TV18 are conspicuous by their absence.

Country’s first pay DTH platform, the Subhash Chandra-owned Dish TV, boasts of 1.25 million subscribers.

Pubcaster’s DD Direct+ claims a subscriber base of 3.5 to 4 million for its subscription-free service of free to air channels.

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