TDSAT has directed ESPN to provide its signals to Sun Direct at half the cable rates specified by TRAI. The case has been listed for hearing on February 10, 2009. TDSAT also made clear to Sun Direct that if ESPN, which has challenged TRAI’s regulation over DTH pricing before it, gets the order in its favour, the DTH operator would have to pay tariffs in accordance with that final order. The TDSAT direction came over a petition filed by the Maran family-controlled Sun Direct seeking signals for its DTH services.
Justice Arun Kumar, heading the TDSAT bench, said, “The sports broadcaster will supply signals as per the directions to TRAI of its channels within one week from the date of the order passed on a la carte basis at 50 per cent of its declared Non-CAS cable rates.”
During the proceedings, the counsel appearing for Sun Direct submitted before the tribunal that it would provide wide coverage to ESPN channels by offering their channels to all customers.
ESPN’s counsel, Nanju Ganpathy, submitted that Sun was asking channels at 50 per cent discount and they had already challenged the entire TRAI regulation directing broadcasters to give their channels to DTH operators at half the cable rates.
“If tomorrow the Tribunal sets aside that TRAI direction, then Sun would have to pay,” submitted Ganpathy.
On November 14, TDSAT had issued a notice to ESPN for allegedly not providing its channels to Sun Direct. Admitting the petition filed by Sun Direct, the broadcast Tribunal has directed ESPN to file its reply within a week. In its petition, the Maran family-owned DTH company contended that despite several requests, ESPN had failed to provide its signals.