Viewers of Zee Tamil in Tamil Nadu on Saturday, 21st December, 2019 took to twitter to show their disappointment because the channel had been abruptly blocked by a few leading cable operators such as Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd, SCV and VK Digital. Viewers were unable to watch Zee Tamil even after paying for the channel. Zee Tamil is a part of the Zee Prime Tamil SD pack, which is competitively priced at Rs. 10/-. No reason has been stated by these operators for blocking of the channel.
Is the sudden blocking of Zee Tamil a case of arm twisting the broadcaster by MSOs for a higher margin? A margin above and beyond the 35% fee prescribed by the regulator; TRAI? Look at Sun Network’s Tamil Pack which is priced at Rs. 39, now market sources reveal that the same is being offered to operators between Rs 16 to Rs. 20 depending upon the size of the operator. Star Vijay Tamil pack is priced at Rs 25 and Zee Tamil pack is at Rs 10. As per TRAI regulation, MSOs are entitled for a 35% margin from the card rate. In case of Zee Tamil, the MSOs seem to be expecting the channel to offer a better margin in addition to the prescribed 35%.
Presence of channels in any base pack of an MSO is essential for attaining maximum reach in that specific market; as the majority of subscribers are likely to sign up for the same because of cheaper rates and the mix of channels offered in the base pack. Usually, the base pack is customized to suite the need of majority audience of the particular market, in this case the Tamil Nadu.
Moreover, the new New Tariff Order insulates MSOs, giving them an edge over broadcasters as it allows them to decide on whom to include and who to not on their Base Packs. They can get away by simply offering the channels on an a-la-cart basis irrespective of its popularity and demand among the subscribers. Thus, indirectly depriving the channels of the much-needed distribution reach that translates into viewership.
The current scenario has victimised Zee Tamil with the pressure tactics adopted by the leading MSOs in Tamil Nadu while it may not be able to seek a remedy before TDSAT. However, sources also reveal that the channel enjoys the patronage of the audience owing to its content quality standards. It will be a humongous task for Zee Tamil to drive the subscribers to choose the channel on a-la-cart basis that would require them to spend Rs 10 over and above the base pack subscription charges.
Now, there can’t be a supposed ‘technical glitch’ by three different operators at the same time with the same channel. We are not aware of the legal recourse that ZEEL might take on these MSOs, but we shall keep our readers posted on any activity on this issue. The channel has launched a slew of consumer awareness campaigns advising them to reach out to their cable operators for the addition of Zee Tamil packs.
ZEEL immediately took appropriate action and issued a press statement; which is mentioned below.
— Peppy Cinema (@PeppyCinema) December 22, 2019
ZEEL’s Press Statement
22nd December, 2019 Mumbai: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) wishes to clarify that all of its television channels in Tamil Nadu are fully operational across leading cable and DTH operators, including Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd., SCV and V K Digital. The channels are also available across all leading DTH operators viz. Airtel Digital TV, Tata Sky, Dish TV, d2h, and Sun Direct. There has been no change in the consumer price (MRP) of the individual channels or channel packs whatsoever. Zee Prime Tamil SD pack, competitively priced at Rs. 10 only, is the best value pack in Tamil Nadu market, when compared to other similar bouquets available in the same market.
ZEEL has issued all the required communications to its esteemed viewers informing and urging them to approach their respective cable operators with a request to reactivate the channels, for which they have already paid Rs. 10, as part of their monthly subscription. This communication is purely issued in the interest of all our viewers, since ZEEL has received several complaints and requests through emails and social media platforms, wherein the consumers have mentioned that their cable operators have removed the ZEE Bouquet from their channel packs, without any communication or reason. Hence, the viewers have expressed their disappointment for not being able to view their favourite ZEE Channels, despite having paid for the same.