Tata Sky-SPNI fail to break deadlock in spite of TDSAT directions

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There is no respite for the Tata Sky subscribers as the DTH operator and Sony Pictures Network India have failed to reach an amicable understanding in spite of the directions from the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Sony Pictures Network India and India Today TV group channels, distributed by SPNI, have been dropped by Tata Sky from its network since October 1. The commercial dispute has occurred as SPNI is asking for a ₹ 1,700 crore fee to renew its three-year deal with Tata Sky, which was earlier paying ₹ 800 crore for the previous three-year cycle.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), approached by the broadcaster, had directed the SPNI and Tata Sky to find an amicable solution over revenue-sharing in four weeks. TDSAT had though dismissed the SPNI request to go back to the old agreement as an interim relief.

“…we direct both the parties to sit across the table and try to work out a mutually acceptable negotiated agreement within a period of four weeks from today,” the TDSAT had stated in an order. The two may seek an extension of this period, the order added.

Earlier this month, Tata Sky had dropped 27 channels of SPN from its network following a disagreement over revenue-sharing. Tata Sky had asked its existing subscribers to give separate missed calls to be able to continue watching 11 channels that include SET, Sony SAB, Sony Six, Sony Ten and Sony Pix HD, besides TV Today’s Aaj Tak.

Meanwhile, Tata Sky has restored some channels for the subscribers who gave a missed call on the numbers the DTH operator has been flashing at the dropped channels frequency, or on request at the Tata Sky helpline desk.

Also Read: Tata Sky, Sony engage in talks, but no early end in sight for channel blackout

As stated in the TDSAT order, both the parties had executed an interconnect agreement which ended on July 31. When the talks for negotiations did not yield result, SPN served a disconnection notice on September 7, warning to disconnect the SPNI channel signals if the dispute were not resolved. After exchange of emails and letters, Tata Sky opted for a Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO)-based agreement. “It limited its acceptance of the offer as per RIO to 10 channels only out of total of 32 channels of the petitioner which it was availing under the agreement,” it said.

“On careful perusal of the relevant materials…we are of the view that now when the parties are being governed by terms of petitioner’s (SPN) RIO…effective from 01.10.2018 after notice to viewers… it would not be in the interest of justice or equity to grant any interim relief so as to reintroduce the old agreement even for a period of four week as per the interim prayer,” states the TDSAT order published by The Hindu Businessline.