New Delhi: Continuing their ongoing spat, broadcaster Star India has accused Raheja group-owned Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd for alleged “misinformation” to consumers over increase in channel prices and passing the blame on it, which is denied by multi-system operator.
According to a Star India official, while the broadcaster hasn’t hiked the rates of its channels, Hathway has taken off the company’s channels from regular consumer packages and put it on a-la carte basis, thereby making the channels more expensive to the consumers.
“We have not increased the prices of any of our channels. Our rates are as per our published RIOs (reference interconnect offer) under TSDAT direction,” the official said.
“According to reports available to us, Hathway is taking the lead in asking others MSOs to offer our channels on a la carte while telling consumers that the increase in price is due to hike in rates by Star India, which is not the case,” the official added.
When contacted, Hathway Cable & Datacom Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Jagdish Kumar G Pillai said, “Earlier Star was giving bouquets of 30 channels to MSOs on a negotiated price between Rs 45 to Rs 20. Now they have started giving channels on RIO basis and if we take all 30 channels from Star on RIO basis then it would cost us Rs 204 now.”
On being asked about the allegations of Star that Hathway is misleading consumers about price increase of its channels, he said: “These are incorrect. I cannot pay from my own pocket (for star channels).”
Pillai further added that to reduce the cost, Hathway has removed all 30 channels of Star from its package.
“We have also reduced price of our package to Rs 15 on average across the country as number of channels has been reduced. We are charging Rs 10 from the customers who want to see Star Plus,” Pillai said.
In September, TDSAT had directed Hathway and Star India to execute an interconnect agreement based on Star’s RIO for Star GEC channels and Star Sports channels by September 30 2014.
TDSAT had also directed that “Hathway shall make payment of licence fees to the broadcasters at the RIO rates from the date of execution of the RIO based agreement”.
Since then Star India has offered its channels as per RIO and has not been offering any package deals to the MSO that it used to do before.
TDSAT had, however, observed that “RIO rates are completely divorced from the market rates. The vast difference between the realistic market prices and the rate in the RIO gives the provider a free hand to quote a price much higher than the market price to a new seeker or one in disfavour, a price that would be commercially unviable and force the seeker either to accept that price or to accept the RIO.”