Star spars with DPOs over content deal renewals, issues disconnection notices to Dish TV, Videocon d2h

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MUMBAI: After sparring with direct to home (DTH) operator Bharti Telemedia, broadcaster Star India has issued disconnection notices to DTH operators Dish TV and Videocon d2h.

The broadcaster said that the notice has been issued due to non-signing of agreements by the two DTH operators. Incidentally, Dish TV and Videocon d2h are close to merging their operations. The merger would create a distribution behemoth with a combined subscriber base of 29 million.

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 subscriber reports.

Bharti Telemedia, which operates under Airtel Digital TV brand, subsequently removed Star channels from the package and has made them available on a la carte basis to subscribers.

Having paid a whopping Rs 16347.5 crore to secure the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights till 2022, Star has been insisting on a huge hike in subscription fee pay-outs from distribution platforms.

It is also embroiled in a dispute with multi system operator (MSO) Siti Networks over agreement renewal. The earlier fixed fee deal between the parties expired on 31 December 2017. Siti has been insisting on a reference interconnect offer (RIO) deal.

Currently, Star channels are available on RIO basis to Siti customers from 1 January 2018.

While refusing to comment on the matter, Dish TV CMD Jawahar Goel said that the industry functions on the basis of ‘might is right’.

The IPL is the biggest media property in India. Clearly, Star wants to leverage IPL’s popularity by getting as much growth in subscription revenue from DPOs as possible. However, the DPOs are no pushovers as they have their own balance sheets to take care of.

The broadcaster also has an added task of achieving the milestone of $500 million EBITDA in 2018 as has been emphasised by 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch from time to time.

Star has mounted an ambitious plan for taking IPL 2018 coverage to 700 million viewers through TV and digital. For the first time, Star India’s video on demand (VoD) platform will offer IPL without the 5-minute customary delay. It will also have six language feeds namely English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Bengali.

On the advertising side, Star has roped in 35+ brands including 11 sponsors. Some of the brands who have come on-board for the IPL are Jio, AMFI, Asian Paints, Berger Paints, Blue Star, Ceat Tyres, Crompton, Dollar, Domino’s, Ford, Haier, Luminous, Pidilite, Sleep Well, Vanessa, Vimal Pan Masala and Voltas have joined Vivo, Colgate, Amul, Coca-Cola, Dream 11, Elica,Kent, MakeMyTrip, Parle Agro, Parle Products, Polycab and Vu TV, among others.


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