The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has given its official order in the petition filed by IndiaCast UTV against Dish TV.
Firstly, Indiacast UTV has been asked to withdraw advertisements issued in the newspapers against Dish TV urging subscribers to switch to other operators.
Secondly, Dish TV has been asked to provide all the channels of the IndiaCast bouquet on a-la-carte basis. Thereby, the DTH operator can withdraw all the channels of the bouquet from packages with effect from January 1, 2014.
The order stated, “The respondent shall take all the 22 channels of the petitioner (with regard to which the fixed deal agreement comes to an end on December 31, 2013) out of its packages and put them on a-la-carte basis on its platform. In respect of the remaining 16 channels likewise, the respondent (Dish TV) shall put them on a-la-carte basis on its platform, w.e.f. April 1, 2013 on expiry of the fixed deal agreement in respect of those 16 channels on March 31, 2014. No legal objection can be taken to the arrangement proposed to be made by the respondent.”
In context with scrolls being run on the screens, the order further stated, “From now, the scroll running on the TV screens will only say that after 31.12.2013 the 22 channels of the petitioner (IndiaCast) shall be available only on a-la-carte basis and invite anyone who want to subscribe to any of those channels on a-la-carte basis, to subscribe to any of those channels on a-la-carte basis, to communicate on the SMS number mentioned in that scroll.”
IndiaCast, in turn, also gave an undertaking that the advertisements published by it against Dish TV shall stop. IndiaCast had published advertisements in leading dailies in response to the Dish TV’s promotional scheme that had asked subscribers to SMS or call to opt for their desired channels from the IndiaCast UTV bouquet, failing which the subscriber would get 100 bonus points per unrequested channel, which they can redeem against the movies-on-demand service.
Industry insiders and analysts call it a compromise that has been arrived at by both the parties.
Long term impact
Although the On-Request scheme of Dish TV, which was the bone of contention, still exists, sources believe that “negative marketing” against the IndiaCast bouquet has been stopped.
“On-Request scheme technically is just like a-la-carte scheme. One has to place the request for the channel separately, but an operator placing his ORC scheme against a specific network or channel is not correct. That cannot classify as ala-carte. Post the court order Dish TV cannot pitch their scheme against IndiaCast and has to provide the channels on ala-carte basis. At the same time IndiaCast cannot publish advertisements against Dish TV. In a way, both have had their share of decisions”, a senior source mentioned.
Experts believe that for any broadcasters to get off the package deals provided by the operator is itself a huge loss. It results in loss of money for the channel. Analysts believe that now it will be a game of crowd pulling.
Dish TV has close to 28 per cent market share in the DTH business. If it is able to sustain itself and expand without the IndiaCast bouquet included in the package, it is good for the DTH operator.
On the other hand, this might also backfire as the bouquet has 36 channels, including channels such as Colors, MTV, Comedy Central, History18, UTV Movies, UTV Action, Bindass, and Disney, among others. In worst case scenario, there could be a shift from the loyal subscribers of the bouquet to other platforms of DTH and digital cable.
As per sources, Dish TV India came up with this initiative that would help it reduce content costs, generate more revenue and benefit subscribers. The firm had planned to offer channels on a ‘request only basis’, which would allow subscribers to do away with channels they never watch.
The decision and the entire development in this context are likely to be used as a reference in the industry. Many people along with the parties involved were keeping a close eye on the developments in the issue.
Dish TV belongs to the Essel Group, which owns the ZEE Network. IndiaCast is the distribution arm of Viacom18 and Network18 Group. The venture also distributes UTV Disney channels.