Rejecting ESPN’s request to offer its bouquet of channels collectively in base package to DTH operators, TRAI has directed the media firm to offer DTH operators the same bouquet having three channels – Star Sports, ESPN and Star Cricket – as it does to MSOs and LCOs in non-CAS areas.
ESPN, which has been involved in legal wrangle with DTH operator Tata Sky, had asked TRAI through its new Reference Interconnect Offer (ROI) its intention to make it compulsory for DTH operators to take all three channels – Star Sports, ESPN and Star Cricket – collectively in their base package.
The regulator also directed ESPN to follow tribunal TDSAT’s orders of charging half the rate charged from the MSOs and LCOs. TRAI also directed the company to modify its Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) within 15 days, while rejecting ESPN’s contentions on pricing mechanism.
“Various factors, including high cost of content, reduced demand for a sports channel when there are no sporting events, mandatory sharing of content with the national broadcaster and time limit to advertisements are the factors which are generally taken into consideration while arriving at non-CAS prices of the sports channel,” TRAI explained.
Therefore, these factors did not necessitate any special treatment for a sports channel, it added in its directive to the broadcaster.