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Hathway owes Rs 70 million, ESS switches off

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MUMBAI: ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has discontinued services of its two channels to Hathway cable network in Delhi, Bangalore and Ludhiana due to non payment of dues.

Hathway has total outstanding worth around Rs 70 million, ESPN Software India sales and marketing vice president Sricharan Iyengar tells indiantelevision.com. "We have switched off signals in three cities, but this can extend to other areas where they are defaulting."

The services to Asianet in Kerala are also discontinued as the dues have mounted to around Rs 25 million, adds Iyengar.

When contacted, Hathway Cable & Datacom chief executive officer K Jayaraman puts the outstanding figures as "baseless and wrong."

The annual service agreement between ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. and Hathway has also expired on 30 November in Delhi. The agreement in Mumbai will expire later this month. "Despite numerous attempts and meetings, it is now apparent, judging from the demands being made by Hathway, that they are not serious about renewing the contract or showing our channels. We are left with no choice. We have discontinued services since Friday. " says Iyengar.

In Banglore, ESS has switched off signals, alleging Hathway to have breached its contract. "Hathway is illegally supplying feed to hotels and commercial places in Bangalore," says Iyengar.

Stressing on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai's) recommendation that consumers can't be charged for the channels that the cable network has dropped out, ESS has advised to deduct Rs 39.70 (the price of the ESPN and Star Sports channels) from their monthly cable payout to Hathway.

ESPN and STAR Sports will be showcasing the India-Bangladesh cricket matches and claims to have all international cricket between December and February, 2005. This will be followed by Pakistan (Videocon Cup winners) tour of Australia (world Champions) where they will play 3 Test matches and as many as 15 ODIs in a triangular series involving West Indies (ICC champions). Besides, it has the live telecast of European soccer from English, Spanish and the UEFA Champions league.

"The icing on the cake would be telecast of the inaugural 'Premier Hockey League' starting 13 January, 2005, and the Australian Open tennis tournament in January 05," says Iyengar. However, ESS has no India cricket content for a long time after the Bangladesh series.

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