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Tata Sky users may lose Star channels in three weeks

Star India, India’s biggest broadcasting company, has threatened to pull out its channels from Tata Sky, India’s biggest distributor of television content.

Tata Sky is a joint venture between Tata Group and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which also owns Star India.

Unlike in case of Star, Fox owns only a minority stake of around 20% in the DTH company, which is largely controlled by the Tata Group.

“We are notifying subscribers of Tata Sky that we will stop providing our signals to the above DTH operator due to failure to sign a subscription agreement,” Star India said in a public announcement as specified in India’s Telecommunications Interconnection Regulations.

The notice has to be given by any broadcaster before stopping the signal.

In the notice given in newspapers today, the broadcaster said it will stop its signal in three weeks from today.

The channels mentioned in the notice include all Star Sports channels, Star Plus, Star Bharat and others.

NEGOTIATION TACTICS

Such threats and even the pulling of signals are a regular occurrence in India as broadcasters try to get more money for their channels, while distributors try to keep as much of the subscriptions paid by users with themselves as possible.

However, the size of the two players — and the tens of millions of users who will be affected — make the spat between Tata Sky and Star India more interesting.

The close relationship between Star and Tata Sky has helped the latter emerge as India’s No.1 TV distribution platform.

Broadcasting companies do not have to disclose how much they are providing their channels for to any particular distribution company.

As such, many of them give steep discounts — of up to 90% — on sticker rates to large platforms like Tata Sky, while smaller networks have to pay higher.

The TRAI has tried to bring a measure of uniformity and non-discrimination into the state of affairs by coming up with rules that prevent channels from offering discounts of more than 15%.

However, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital have successfully blocked the new TRAI rules — which were to be implemented from last month — from taking effect by challenging it in the courts.

The case is still going on.

Hat Tip – Adithya Vikram

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