IndiaCast channels back on Hathway as content deal fructifies

MUMBAI: IndiaCast Media Distribution, the content monetisation arm of TV18 and Viacom18, has switched on the signals of its channel to multi system operator (MSO) Hathway Digital.

The parties have agreed to sign a one year fixed fee deal until 31 March 2019.

The company had switched off the signals on 25 April after it could not arrive at an understanding with Hathway to renew the deal, which had expired on 31 March.

In retaliation, Hathway had switched-off Turner India channels. IndiaCast had assumed charge as official distribution agent of Turner channels from 1 April.

The negotiations were stuck on the kind of growth that Hathway was willing to give IndiaCast.

IndiaCast had issued a disconnection notice to Hathway on 1 April for non-payment of dues, non-submission of monthly subscriber reports, under-declaration of subscribers, failure to allow an audit of systems, and unauthorised retransmission of channels.

After the disconnection of the signals, the MSO moved Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on 27 April to get signals on reference interconnect offer (RIO) basis.

When the matter came up for hearing on 1 May, the two parties told the tribunal that they are negotiating following which the matter was adjourned to 2 May.

In the next hearing, the two parties submitted that they have reached an agreement and the signals will be switched on. The tribunal adjourned the matter to 28 May after the parties sought time to sign a formal agreement.

Consequently, IndiaCast distributed channels were back on Hathway platform from Wednesday.

Hathway had locked its content deal with Star India in early 2018. The deal is till 31 December 2018. It is also in advanced stages of signing deals with ZEEL and Sony Pictures Networks India.

During a conversation with analysts, Hathway Cable and Datacom MD Rajan Gupta had said that the content cost will increase by 10% which is an industry phenomenon.

“Content cost, so currently negotiations are going on with the most of the broadcasters, so I think it is premature to comment upon that, but industry wide there is a general consensus that content cost will increase by around 10%, but we are yet to close on that,” Gupta had noted.

IndiaCast has a bouquet of 51 channels including 9 high definition (HD) channels spanning across various genres including general entertainment, kids, news, music, infotainment, and movies in India.

Hathway Digital had seeded 7.2 million set top boxes (STBs), as on 31 December. The MSO’s total universe stood at 7.5 million. The company had 2 lakh HD customers.

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