Star, Airtel Digital TV row escalates

MUMBAI: The dispute between broadcaster Star India and direct to home (DTH) operator Bharti Television (Airtel Digital TV) over content deal renewal has escalated with both parties throwing allegations at each other.

In a message to its subscribers, the DTH operator said that Star network channels will be removed from the packages effective 31 March due to a hike in tariff by the broadcaster.

“Star network has increased tariffs of its channels, which will result in higher pack prices for you. In order to protect your interests, Star network channels will be temporarily withdrawn from your packs with effect from 31st March 2018,” the DTH operator said.

As a promotional offer, it is offering 22 Star channels for free for a month. The DTH operator said that the channels being given for a promotional period of 30 days can be extended or withdrawn at its discretion without any further communication.

It also assured customers by stating that they will get Star Sports 1/Star Sports 1 Hindi channels in their base packs till 30 May.

Further, 11 standard definition (SD) and 23 high definition (HD) channels are being offered on a la carte basis. It is offering replacements for a few channels and in some cases, it has promised to give the refund.

The DTH operator had earlier said that Star channels will be removed from packages from 8 March. While most of the offer remains the same, this time the only difference is that the DTH operator is offering Star Sports 1/Star Sports 1 Hindi channels as part of base till 30 may.

The broadcaster is also running scrolls on its channels advising Airtel DTH customers to move to other platforms to get Star channels in packages.

“Attention Airtel Digital TV subscribers! Star has not increased channel tariffs. Airtel Digital TV is misleading you and unilaterally increasing the prices of Star channels. To continue watching high-quality Star entertainment switch to new DTH/Cable operator NOW,” Star India posted on its Twitter account.

On 16 February, Star had issued a disconnection notice to Bharti Telemedia for non-signing of the subscription agreement, non-payment of subscription fees and non-submission of subscribers reports.

The DTH operator moved Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against Star India’s disconnection notice. The tribunal restrained Star from giving effect to its disconnection notice while directing the DTH operator to clear the dues.

It also asked the parties to sit and hammer out a solution. Passing a judgement on an application filed by Star, the TDSAT has directed both the parties to come to an agreement through negotiations before 31 March or else enter into a reference interconnect agreement (RIO) from 1 April.

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