Television

Zee Sports-MSO tussle to deny cricket to Mumbaikars

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MUMBAI: Looks like cricket fans in Mumbai will be unable to watch the India-Australia match on Saturday with Zee Sports and the major Mumbai multi-system operators (MSOs) continuing to take a hard stance.

Even Incablenet's plea filed in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) for restoration of signals was rejected today.

"Since Incablenet was unwilling to sign the subscription agreement, TDSAT rejected the operator’s plea for interim relief. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for 19 September by which time if an agreement has not been reached between the two parties, then the court will take a decision," Zee Turner said in a release.

Incablenet's argument was that Zee Sports had not served a 21-day notice before blacking out the signals, as required by a regulation prescribed by the Telecom regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The MSO also wanted restoration of the signals as the disconnection was patently illegal.

"Zee Turner also offered a bulk discount to Incablenet but this was also rejected by the MSO," the company said.

The TDSAT has asked Zee Turner to file its reply on Monday following which the next hearing of the case would be on Tuesday.

“We cannot allow our signals on any of the networks that have not signed the subscription agreement with us, especially since a majority of the country has already signed and is watching the tri-series. Zee Sports has been a pay channel since June 2005 and we have spent a substantial amount of money in acquiring the rights of the DLF Cup tri-series. We have the right to demand subscription fees,” says Zee Turner CEO Arun Poddar.

“The operators that have already signed the agreement will continue to get the signals for Zee Sports,” Poddar adds. The sports channel, for instance, is on Seven Star, which operates in the western suburbs of Mumbai.

Zee Sports was made available to viewers in Mumbai for the India-West Indies cricket match yesterday but was once again blacked out from the major cable networks in the evening.

Sources say the cable operators were willing to sign up for a 10 per cent declaration of Zee Turner's first bouquet. But this was not acceptable to Zee Turner, the company which distributes a bouquet of channels including Zee Sports.

Zee Sports has the exclusive telecast rights for the DLF Cup between India, Australia and West Indies. The tri-series will last till 24 September.

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