The ongoing controversy with Hathway Cable has taken yet another twist. Hathway has been in dispute over removing signals of certain sports channels from Hathway packages and offering customers a more expensive pick and choose option. The matter was to be resolved with the mediation of TDSAT.
Hathway Cable and Datacom have now been accused of causing a disruption and shifting of channels and frequencies without intimating consumers by a broadcaster. A source said that there have been constant disputes with this particular MSO on sports channel offerings and now it has affected the entertainment channels.
“Consistently what’s been happening over the six or seven months with Hathway is that they have been getting into disputes typically with broadcasters. It started off with sports offerings five or six months ago. Now it’s happening with the entertainment channels. We’ve been consistent with cable as well as DTH operators and have been able to arrive at commercial solutions. But it’s been extremely difficult with Hathway, the end result is that Hathway consumers have been significantly impacted from an overall cost perspective as well as the amount of content choice they have been offered,” said a source close to the development.
When asked about the impact on the network due to blocking signals of its channels to Hathway, the source said, “The ability of any MSO to really impact a broadcaster is limited because finally no matter how many households you are running in (in a country of 120-130 million households out which only 70 million are Hindi speaking audience), even if Hathway has a three and half million households, then the holdback of the signals will affect only those households. So even in the worst case scenario, the maximum impact is 3-4% (in digital). The ability of any single operator to impact broadcasters is limited.”
Disagreeing to this, Jagdish Kumar, MD & CEO, Hathway said, “The TDSAT order which has been given on 25th September 2014, (based on an affidavit by Star TV on 10thSeptember 2014) states that they will henceforth carry or distribute their channels only on an a la carte basis which is the RIO basis. There is nothing of the sort (disrupting and changing of channels). What we have done based on the TDSAT order is to now remove Star TV from all the packages and we are offering it on an a la carte basis. So there is no shifting of any channels as such.” With regards to whether the RIO agreement has been done he said that they have signed the deal and sent it to Star India for their approval.
The MSO operator has been in news lately due to certain issues with broadcasters Star India and ZEEL’s distribution arm Taj Television. After a prolonged wait TDSAT recently delivered its judgement in the Hathway, Taj Television and Star India dispute (TDSAT delivers its judgment in Hathway, Taj TV & Star India dispute). The tribunal instructed Hathway to pay Taj Television for Zee & Turner channels at a cost per subscriber (CPS) rate of Rs.21.50 for the period April-July 2014. It further directed the MSO operator to pay Star India at the CPS of Rs.23 for the period April-September 2014. They had to additionally pay Rs.4 CPS for Star Sports. The tribunal further directed Hathway to pay RIO rates to Star India effective October 1, 2014.