Lucknow : With more than 15 channels of the Star TV network going off, around 3.5 lakh cable TV viewers are facing the threat of losing reception of other channels too. The multiple system operators in city (MSOs) pulled various Star channels off air because the broadcaster increased pay-cost of channels MSOs were unable to bear.
From a package deal of just Rs 22 showing over 22 Star channels, the media giant enhanced package cost to Rs 30 and that too for only seven channels including Star Plus, Star Gold, Life OK, Channel V, National Geographic and Star Sports 3. The MSOs have hence withdrawn remaining channels and are showing only 7 at the moment.
Director and JV partner in Digicable Lucknow (9) Jeevan Khanna said, “The broadcasters are forcing us to encourage viewers to choose a la carte rates instead as they give better margins to the group. But then individual costs of channels are too high and showing all channels would cost us above Rs 112 per connection.”
He elaborates that if MSOs start giving major share to Star Group, they would have no money left to show other channels as they get only Rs 150-200 per connection from people. Apart from Star channels, other broadcasters like Sony, Zee, Colors etc have also started demanding higher pay-cost from MSOs.
Anil Upadhyay, president of UP Cable Operators Welfare Association said, “Channels of Zee, Colors, Sony etc are also likely to be pulled off air soon if the groups insists on higher package costs. Star took a stern stand of showing all channels on a higher cost, hence the MSOs and operators boycotted in Lucknow. Other groups are still negotiating with us but all want to increase their pay-cost.”
He says even today, all pockets of Lucknow are not receiving signals of channels evenly. While certain localities are deprived of a few Sony channels, others don’t see ETV, some don’t get to see Star Sports regularly. “With countdown to cricket World Cup approaching, the panic has increased among viewers”, he added.