Most cable networks have accepted the hike after the customary grumbling, one of the larger multi-system operators - Hathway Cable & Datacom - has refused to accept the subscription hike and has blacked out the two channels. Discovery Communications had hiked its subscription rates for its package of two channels -- Discovery and Animal Planet -- from Rs 5 to Rs 6.25 per subscriber per month.
The sources close to Discovery Communications allege that Hathway was waging a war by proxy on behalf of Star. National Geographic channel, which is part of the Star bouquet, competes with Discovery for the natural history slot but has a much lower reach and viewership rating.
Discovery's blackout on Hathway's network has been continuing for the last two weeks. Discovery has taken the stand that there would be no compromise on the revised rate, but the number of subscribers Hathway would pay for is seen as a negotiable issue. Sanjay Khanna, Discovery's VP-distribution and marketing said the channel's recovery rate was around 33 per cent, which was above the industry average.
Meanwhile, Discovery has firmed up plans to launch two more channels -- Discovery Health and Discovery Travel by the end of the year. Discovery Health would go on air first as a 24 -hour channel.
The opening up of health insurance to the private sector and the increasing concerns about health had made 'Discovery Health' an attractive business proposition. Earlier plans to launch 'Discovery Kids' as a separate channel had however been put on hold as the prospects of generating ad revenue for a 24-hour children's channel were not very bright.