The TDSAT hearing in the IndiaCast - Dish TV case will demarcate next set of boundaries that players need to comply with in the future of television distribution in the country.
It may be recalled that IndiaCast had issued advertisements in leading dailies last week asking subscribers of Dish TV to switch to other operators as after January 1, 2014, channels in the Indiacast bouquet will no longer be available on the DTH service provider. This, according to a source in IndiaCast, was in response to the DTH operator’s ‘on request channel scheme’, wherein subscribers were asked to have the movies on demand service in place of a few channels (all from the IndiaCast-UTV bouquet). In case subscribers wanted to view those channels, they would need to call/ SMS the operators’ customer care. Dish TV substantiated the move as a step towards empowering its customers.
Although the official court order is not out yet, as per sources, the TDSAT has issued directives to both the parties, wherein it has asked IndiaCast to stop publishing advertisements against Dish TV. Both the sides are trying to interpret the court order as their victory. With the verdict, a new set of guidelines are in place that needs to be followed in DTH distribution. Senior sources in the broadcast community have also suggested that the decision is likely to impact Dish TV’s future prospects as no subscriber would like a distortion with his/ her set of channels in any form whatsoever unless initiated from the subscriber.
Gaurav Gandhi, COO, IndiaCast UTV said, “We are delighted with the TDSAT order. We have got all the relief and clarifications we sought. The law allows DTH platforms to offer the channels either as a la carte or in a pack to consumers and there is nothing called on-request channels. The arguments and the ruling today were fairly unambiguous, where Dish TV was made to choose one option between a la carte and the pack. They have chosen the a la carte option, which is exactly what we wanted. They have also been instructed by the court to modify the scrolls on our channels to reflect the same. We anyways got the relief on carriage fee in the last TDSAT hearing, where Dish accepted our RIO and agreed to not charge carriage.”
On the other hand Dish TV issued a statement saying, “The TDSAT has disposed off the petition of IndiaCast and has upheld the On Request Scheme of Dish TV, where the channels of IndiaCast will be provided by Dish TV to its subscribers on a la carte basis. On the petition of Dish TV, the TDSAT has also directed IndiaCast to stop publishing advertisements against the ORC scheme of Dish TV. Dish TV has also been allowed to run the scrolls publishing the ORC scheme by mentioning that the channels will be available on ala carte basis.”
RC Venkatesh, CEO, Dish TV remarked, "Our deal with IndiaCast expires on December 31, 2013 and that is the reason we chose only the Indiacast bouquet for the deal. The channels were always available on a la carte basis.”
Once the court order is in public domain, it is expected to have a set of guidelines for operation of channels on the DTH platform.