Sony hits back at Tata Sky over removal of channels

MUMBAI: Hitting back at direct to home (DTH) operator Tata Sky, broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has condemned the removal of its channels by the DTH operator.

Tata Sky removed 27 channels of SPNI and TV Today Network from 1 October. Sony is the official distributor TV Today Network channels.

The removal of channels was preceded by a disconnection notice issued by Tata Sky against SPNI and TV Today Network on 16 September. The DTH operator’s notice was in response to the one issued by SPNI and TV Today Network.

Both the disconnection notices were issued due to non-renewal of agreement.

Sony has alleged that Tata Sky has unilaterally dropped the channels even though the rates of the channels have remained unchanged.

“Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Tata Sky have over the years developed an excellent working relationship. It is therefore unfortunate that Tata Sky has unilaterally chosen to drop 22 SPN channels from its subscription, even though SPN has not increased the rates of its channels,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

It also alleged that the DTH operator is compelling its subscribers to give missed calls to receive channels for which they have already paid.

“SPN channels are leaders in their genres and the network is one of the most popular in the country. By unilaterally dropping the channels, Tata Sky is depriving its viewers of the opportunity to watch world-class entertainment and live sporting action. Further, by compelling existing subscribers to give separate “missed” calls even to continue watching the SPN channels they have already paid for, Tata Sky is not acting in consumer interest,” SPNI added.

The broadcaster noted that the SPNI and TV Today Network channels can be availed by the Tata Sky subscribers on a la carte basis.

“We would like to reassure Tata Sky subscribers that the SPN channels are available under the TRAI mandated Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO). All they have to do is call Tata Sky and demand that the channels be provided to them,” the statement read.

Tata Sky, on the other hand, has claimed that the negotiations with Sony broke down since the demand by the broadcaster would have forced it to hike the price of its pack.

“Tata Sky has dropped 27 channels and services from its platform from 01-Oct-2018 (00:00 hours). Commercial negotiations with broadcasters broke down because what they were seeking would have forced us to hike our prices. Hence, we have had to drop a few channels while keeping the popular ones on. Please bear with us for some time because we are doing this in our subscriber’s interest,” the DTH operator said in a public statement.

The DTH operator has also suggested users to give a missed call from the registered mobile number to add the channel at no extra cost. “However, in case you wish to watch all 27 channels, you will have to give 27 missed calls,” it stated.

Users who have already subscribed to the following 11 channels which include SET, Sony Sab, Sony Six, Sony Ten, Sony Pix and Aaj Tak among others, just need to add the channel at no extra cost by giving a missed call.

Apart from SPNI, Tata Sky is also engaged in negotiations with ZEEL and IndiaCast Media Distribution to renew the content deal. Tata Sky has issued disconnection notices against both the companies while the two companies had also issued disconnection notices against the DTH operator.

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