HYDERABAD: The ongoing tussle between broadcaster Multi Screen Media (MSM) and multi-system operator (MSO) Hathway has annoyed Telangana cable operators.
The Telangana State Cable TV Operators Welfare Association has sent a written request to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to make an inquiry and take necessary action to ensure that Hathway restores the Sony Channel package.
“Frequent shifting of channels and/or switching off channels or signals from MOS’s end and practice of displaying no-signal is bringing much impact on cable operators from subscribers with an irritation and confusion about the Digital Addressable System (DAS) which was started in an enthusiastic manner to take the cable TV network to digitization. If the unilateral decisions of Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd continues, the very purpose of the DAS will not get the desired results. On the other hand, it may lead to an increase in the demand for DTH operators which creates unhealthy competition,” the letter said.
J Jagadishwar Rao, general secretary of the cable TV operators association, said ”We are facing the brunt of this fight. Angry customers are lining up in front of our office and blaming us for this switch off of MSM channels (Sony Entertainment Television, Sony Max, Sony Six, etc.). We hope that this feud is sorted out fast and we can go back to broadcasting Sony channels. The cable TV business has already been affected with the onset of DTH. Now, the problem has worsened.”
He added, “We are the ones who have invested and created the base and made sure that customers are still with cable network. If MSOs have complete control, this is what happens. The control needs to be shared with us and for that some amendments need to be made to the Act.”
Makarand Palekar, executive vice-president (marketing) of MSM Media Distribution suggested that Hathway have a separate deal with MSM in Telangana and restore their channels.”There is no need for Telangana to get entangled in the national issue. We have placed our proposal before the consultant of Hathway in Telangana and suggested that rather than going with the Mumbai people, we can have a separate deal in Telangana. We are yet to receive a reply,” he said.
According to Makarand, Hathway has not paid its dues for the last seven months which comes to more than Rs 14 crore. “Hathaway is our oldest customer and we have never pressurised them for money. But lately, things have gone out of control and we could smell the rat. Because of this ongoing tussle, we are being completely at a loss and are losing subscriptions in large numbers from areas which are under Hathway control,” Makarand said
Ch Rajsekhar, consultant, Hathway, refused to say anything on the pretext that the issue is in the court. “Hathway provides services across the country. So I think it’s not a good idea to have a deal just for one state. Anyway, we are negotiating and trying our level best to resolve the issue. As the issue is in the court now, I can’t comment or give out any other details,” he said.
”This is ridiculous. Do they wait if we pay our monthly charges later. Then why stop our services like this? My kids have been troubling me as they can’t watch their favourite programmes. The cable has been down for the last two days,” said an angry housewife.
“I work all day to relax at night watching cricket. It is weird that the Sony channels have not been aired for 20 days. I missed out on all the cricket matches that have been telecast on Sony Six. I don’t see any reason why I should still stick with my cable network when I have an option to switch to other DTH providers,” Nizam Tolan, a criminal lawyer said.