Regulators

Star cannot disconnect HD signals to Hathway till next hearing: TDSAT

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MUMBAI: The order for the Hathway versus Star India case puts things in order. The Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal’s (TDSAT) interim order states that as per an earlier order issued, multi system operator (MSO) Hathway Cable & Datacom has provided Star India with the subscriber management system (SMS) report for the period April to June 2014. Till the case is resolved, the Tribunal has carved out an interim financial measure to settle the dispute regarding Star’s entertainment and sports channels.

Just as Star and Hathway had agreed to enter into a RIO deal for its sports channels, the broadcaster moved the TDSAT again claiming that Hathway had not made any payments after expiry of the earlier agreement between the MSO and MediaPro (which was then handling Star channels).

Star had sent out disconnection notices against Hathway for its entertainment channels on grounds of nonpayment of dues. During the hearing, Star’s contended that since the MSO had taken its sports channels on RIO, the same must be followed for its entertainment channels without partiality. ‘Hathway cannot be permitted to indulge in duality and take some of Star’s channels on RIO terms and some other channels on negotiated terms; again Hathway cannot take the same channels in different parts of the country on different terms,’ claimed Star.

Post this, the MSO said that it is willing to take its entertainment and sports channels at a cost per subscriber (CPS) basis of Rs 22 while Star asked for Rs 31. TDSAT as an interim measure has said that taking the mean of the two would be ideal. Therefore, from 1 August, Star will raise invoices on Hathway for monthly subscription fees for both genre channels at Rs 27 CPS basis.

“It will be open to Star to take into account each and every set top box by means of which any Star channel is viewable. Hathway shall put any sports channels of Star in any of its bouquet as it may deem appropriate,” states the TDSAT order.

Meanwhile for the period April to July, TDSAT has given permission to Star to raise invoices for its entertainment channels at the rate of Rs 23 CPS basis in the DAS areas of Mumbai and Delhi, where the agreement ended on 30 April 2014 and DAS areas of Kolkata and DAS II areas where the agreement came to an end on 31 March 2014. For the sports channels, invoices will be raised on RIO basis. The total of this, Rs 26.5 crore has been paid by Hathway on 30 July.

These arrangements have been made for Star’s SD channels. Directions on its HD channels will be made in the next hearing, which is on 11 August and till then the broadcaster has been told not to disconnect its HD signals to Hathway.

In the end, TDSAT makes it clear that this is only an interim arrangement as per current circumstances and will not operate as a precedent for any other case or parties.

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