Television

Sony-Discovery reach agreement with Dish TV

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NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: It's been a long time coming but after endless rounds of discussions, India’s first direct-to-home service Dish TV has finally reached mutually agreeable terms with the Sony-Discovery One Alliance distribution bouquet to carry their channels.

The two parties arrived at a memorandum of understanding today and the official signing will happen anytime in the next few days, sources close to the developments tell Indiantelevision.com.

The One Alliance channels will begin beaming off the Dish platform within the next few days and the billing cycle is effective from 1 July on. The financial terms that the two parties have agreed to were not available at the time of filing this report.

For Dish TV, this resolves one half of the problem it has been facing ever since its launch - its inability to offer subscribers channels from the One Alliance and Star bouquets.

With the addition of the Sony bouquet, Dish TV can look forward to a major ramp up in subscriber numbers. Two key events that are expected to drive acquisitions in the immediate term are the ongoing India-West Indies Test series and the Fifa World Cup. The Word Cup kicks off in Munich, Germany, on 9 June while the second Test in St Lucia, West Indies, will take place between 10 and 14 June. ESPN Star Sports (already on the Dish network) has exclusive rights to the World Cup while Ten Sports - part of the One Alliance bouquet - is exclusively airing the cricket in the Caribbean.

A contentious issue that automatically gets resolved with Sony's sign-up on Dish is the legal spat that Subhash Chandra’s DTH service has been having with Viacom channels MTV and Nick since last year. Both channels are part of the One Alliance.

In a letter sent to the information and broadcasting ministry last month, Dish TV had petitioned that despite the sector regulator’s directive on making available content to all platforms and a favourable judgement from disputes tribunal TDSAT, the “conduct of MTV” has been “clearly in violation” of the interconnection regulation of 2004.

Dish TV’s parent ASC Enterprises' contention was that despite carrying on commercial negotiations with MTV Networks India for several months, the content provider and its distributors in India (One Alliance) had stalled any fruitful conclusion of such talks.

ASC Enterprises, an Essel Group company, holds the licence for a DTH service in the country, which is marketed under the brand name Dish TV.

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