Television

Tata-Sky approaches TDSAT against Zee over bouquet pricing

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MUMBAI:There seems to be no end to the thrust and parry going on over the DTH airwaves. Close on the heels of Dish TV wresting a favourable decision against Star India, Tata Sky has moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement And Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) --- against what it terms as Zee's exhorbitatnt terms for providing its network channels to its still-in-the-pipeline DTH service.

The petition by Tata Sky before the appellate tribunal makes Zee Turner Ltd, Zee Telefilms Ltd,Turner International India and Dish's managing company ASC Enterprises LTD as party to the case.

The Tata Sky petition alleges that the Zee Group has denied supply of Zee Turner bouquet of channels to the former's yet-to-be-launched DTH service under reasonable terms.

The petitioner has sought "to obtain appropriate direction for the signals of the channels," alleging that respondent Zee Turner has quoted unreasonable terms for supply of its signals to Tata Sky.

Contacted by Indiantelevision.com, a senior executive at Dish TV today refrained from commenting on the issue, saying, ?We have yet not received any direction from TDSAT.?

The disputes tribunal has given the respondents three days from the day they receive an official intimation to file its replies.The next date of hearing is 25 July 2006.

As per regulatory norms, all content should be made available to all delivery platforms on a non-discriminatory basis.

Last week, the tribunal had delivered a verdict laying down benchmark rate for channel prices for DTH platforms, while directing Star to make available its channels to Dish TV.

Main respondent Zee Turner is a 74:26 distribution joint venture between Zee Telefilms and Time Warner company Turner International India.

The cable pricing of the two Zee-Turner bouquets is Rs 83.65 plus service tax. Zee-Turner's bouquet one comprises Zee TV, Zee Cinema, Zee Movies, Zee English, CNN, Cartoon Network, CNBC, Trendz, Reality TV, Zee Marathi, Zee Punjabi, Zee Bangla and Zee Gujarati and is priced at Rs 58.85 per subscriber/per month. The second bouquet carries HBO, Vh1, Pogo, Zee Business and Awaaz, which is available at Rs 25 per subscriber/per month.

Tata Sky's complaint before TDSAT is that Zee is seeking the same pricing terms for supplying its channels to its DTH service as is its cable rates.

In what manner TDSAT responds to the Tata Sky complaint will be watched with close interest. After all, in its earlier order in favour of Dish TV, TDSAT, while directing the sector regulator to set a benchmark for channel prices for DTH services, said that Star channels should be made available to Dish TV at half the price at which they are available to cable operators.

The tribunal's reasoning in the earlier case was that DTH is an addressable system where loss of revenue down the value chain is negligible, if not zero.

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