Sun Direct threatens to remove Star India channels from all packs

Sun Direct, the No.1 direct-to-home service in South India, has threatened to remove all channels of India’s largest broadcasting company, Star India, from all its subscription packs from August 1.

The channels will continue to be available on the platform, but users will have to purchase the channels individually at prices ranging from Rs 10 per month to Rs 40 per month.

The move is part of annual pricing negotiations between the supplier and distributor of TV content, and can impact about 43 out of the 350 or so channels carried by Sun Direct.

Among the channels that stand to be impacted are Asianet, Suvarna, Maa, Vijay, Jalsha, Fox, Star Sports and FX.

The two companies, however, are expected to resolve the pricing dispute within a few weeks.

Sun Direct is the latest DTH provider to enter into ‘hard negotiations’ with Star.

The channel company has been trying distributors to pay to it a larger share of what they get from their subscribers, starting with the largest DTH player Tata Sky in November last year.

This was followed by similar requests for higher payments from Dish TV and Airtel Digital.

Dish TV officials have said that Star was demanding a higher-than-usual price increase for their channels this year, causing the disagreement.

The dispute between Star and Airtel Digital reached all the way up to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, which refused to get into the merits of the case, but instead of told the parties to sort it out between themselves.

Star has faced an increase in programming cost after it bid over Rs 16,000 cr for the broadcasting rights of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament for the next five years.

Star is estimated to have earned total revenue of around Rs 3,000 cr from the recently concluded first season of the IPL, including about Rs 1,800 cr from ads.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India too has entered the scene, and tried to enforce a new system of charging for cable and DTH players in India. The new system will come into effect by around November this year.

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