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Media Pro deactivates Asianet channels in Kerala

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MUMBAI: The war between the Kerala cable operators and Media Pro Enterprise India, the distribution JV between Star Den and Zee Turner, is out in the open with the latter deactivating all its channels alleging non-payment of subscription fee.

Media Pro, which aggregates and distributes Zee, Star, NDTV and Turner bouquet of channels in India, said it has been facing severe issues from a certain group of local cable operators in the state.

A group of cable operators are creating unwarranted problems for Media Pro that has hampered the smooth telecast of channels across the state, Media Pro said.

These cable operators have not paid their subscription fee for the bouquet of channels distributed by Media Pro more than a year now, Media Pro alleged.

"Media Pro was forced to take this strong decision of deactivating all the channels after numerous reminders and notices failed to evoke any response from these operators," the company said.

Media Pro also accused the "group of operators" of spreading rumours on ground by telling the consumers that they have to pay a very high amount if they want Media Pro channels when the fact is that it is not receiving the subscription fee that is being collected on the ground.

However, in reality, these operators are catering to millions of households across the state and are paying only a miniscule amount of subscription fee collected per household to Media Pro, the company alleged.

A senior official of Media Pro stated, "Few operators are spreading rumours that are misleading the viewers that they will have to pay higher subscription fees if they wish to view our channels which are absolutely not true. These operators retain a lion‘s share of all the subscription fees that they collect from the viewers and do not pay what is rightfully due to us. Despite repeated reminders and meetings to resolve the issue, we have received no response from these operators which has in turn forced us to take this tough decision of disconnecting the channels."

"As a company we remain committed in doing our best to protect the interests of the viewers in particular. Once we receive the needed support from these operators we will be pleased to be able to restore the channels to our customers," he added.

The Media Pro action follows a protest march by Kerala Cable Operators Association under Kerala State Committee of Communist Party Secretary Pannian Raveendran from Kasargod and Wayanad to pressurise the media distribution major.

Contrary to Media Pro statement, the KCOA said they have stopped broadcasting Asianet, Asianet Plus and Asianet Movies from the Asianet Group from 11 November. The cable operators have alleged that Media Pro is asking operators to pay unreasonable old dues.

The KCOA, which has 3,000 cable operators under its belt, said that the operators have an agreement with Asianet while the distribution of these channels was taken over by Mediapro later. The operators alleged that the Media Pro decision is aimed at helping DTH operators and cable operators affiliated to the broadcasters.

"Mediapro started pressurizing the independent operators to make the payments for all the channels they are distributing for which the payment was not collected from the end users. We fear their motto has been to include other nationwide channels in to their fold, increase the rates and thus help DTH companies in which they have direct interest (Tata Sky and Dish TV). They are also promoters for Cable Operators like Hathway (ACV in Kerala), City Cable and Den," KCOA claimed.

The electricity board has imposed the annual per pole rent from Rs 130 to Rs 311 which has made things difficult for the operators, who need 2 to 3 Poles for urban areas and 7 to 8 poles for rural areas to take the signals to the end user.

The COA State Committee has urged the I&B ministry and Trai to interfere in the matter.

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