Tata Sky has its hands full. After having to withdraw its petition against DishTV over the latter’s ‘Free Set-Top Box’ ad, the DTH service provider is facing flak for taking off ESPN-Star Sports from its basic package offering. ESPN is now threatening to take Tata Sky to court for indulging in arm twisting tactics and eroding brand equity of its channels by ‘unilaterally and arbitrarily' discontinuing them.
In an ad brought out by ESPN in major dailies on June 5, the sports broadcaster alleged “Tata Sky has unilaterally and arbitrarily discontinued the broadcast of ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket to all its existing subscribers and is forcing them to subscribe to these three channels in a separate add-on pack”.
The ad further said, “This has happened despite the fact that there has been no increase in the rates of ESPN, Star Sports and STAR Cricket channels”, and added, “Subscribers of Tata Sky are informed that the signals of ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket are available on cable TV networks and on DishTV DTH platform”.
Commenting on the development, RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India, alleged, “After the expiry of our agreement in March, we are still providing them signals as we are involved in another litigation with them. Taking advantage of the situation they are doing whatever they want with our signals”.
He further said, “We will be moving the Delhi High Court against Tata Sky on two-three specific aspects.” He, however, refrained from sharing further details.
Venkateish also said that ESPN was also contemplating moving the MRTPC against Tata Sky in the case.
It may be recalled that recently, Tata Sky had announced new rates by reducing monthly subscription charges by up to Rs 50 across all packages.
But according to Venkateish, “What they (Tata Sky) have done is that by taking away 12 channels from the base channels, they are claiming to subscribers that it is coming at a cheaper rate. But they are selling the 12 channels at a separate rate.” The removed channels had been separately priced at Rs 40, Rs 30 and Rs 15, respectively, for ESPN Star channels, Ten Sports and BBC channels, he said, adding, “In totality, subscribers have to pay Rs 45 more and this is unfair trade practice”.
Tata Sky made to withdraw petition against DishTV regarding ‘Free Set Top Box’ ad