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Tata Sky agrees to offer ESPN-STAR channels in basic package till November

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Tata Sky agrees to offer ESPN-STAR channels in basic package till November

Tata Sky has submitted before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that it would continue to provide free signals of ESPN-STAR group channels as part of its basic package till November 2008.

“Counsel for the respondent (Tata Sky) clarifies that the respondent would continue to offer three free channels – ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket – to those subscribers who enrolled six months prior to June 1, 2008, up to November 30, 2008,” said the TDSAT bench admitting Tata Sky’s submission.

Tata Sky counsels filed the statement amidst arguments over a petition filed by one West Bengal-based Federation of Consumer Associations.

In July 2008, Tata Sky and ESPN had reached a conclusion with the broadcast tribunal allowing Tata Sky to beam ESPN’s channels on a la carte basis, based on the choice of the DTH operator’s customers and as per the rules and regulations. This apart, TDSAT also directed Tata Sky to pay the due amount to ESPN for all of its three channels till May 31 within 10 days. TDSAT had, thus, relieved Tata Sky from an undertaking submitted before the Delhi High Court on June 6, 2008, where the DTH operator had stated that they would carry all channels of ESPN in the basic pack.

The company, which had altered its basic package and claimed to have cut the charges by Rs 40 to Rs 260, had removed some prime channels in June this year such as BBC, Ten Sports, ESPN, Star Sports, Star Cricket, etc, from its basic package and asked its customers to pay an additional fee to view these channels.

However, Tata Sky, a 80:20 joint venture between Tata and Star, had to later restore ESPN-STAR group channels following the directions of the Delhi High Court.

Later, TDSAT permitted the company in August to withdraw the channels and reintroduce its add-on package. The company, which is facing cases filed by consumer organisations before fair trade regulator MRTPC and broadcast regulator TDSAT over removal of channels, submitted before the Tribunal’s bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar that TRAI guidelines permitted it to reduce the number of channels on its platform.

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