Leading broadcasters and key cable TV platforms continued to be at loggerheads on Sunday with Disney-Star, Sony, and Zee switching off signals of their channels on leading platforms such as Hathway Digital and DEN Networks. This left millions of TV households without access to popular channels.

The broadcasters’ move to disconnect TV services from key Distribution Platform Operators on Saturday came after these cable TV platforms also known as Multi-System Operators (MSOs) refused to sign fresh distribution agreements or RIO (reference interconnect offers) under NTO 3.0 (New Tariff Order) notified by TRAI.

The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) on Saturday said that its members are not signing the new agreements as a mark of protest against unreasonable pricing by the broadcasters. The industry body also claimed on Saturday that the broadcaster’s move has deprived 45 million TV households of entertainment.

Invoking public sympathy

In a fresh statement on Sunday, the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), the industry body of broadcasters, accused All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), the industry body of digital cable operators, of invoking public sympathy by creating a false narrative.

“The AIDCF’s claim that broadcasters are driving up TV channel prices and that 45 million households have been impacted by channel disruption is completely false. Having not been granted any interim relief in multiple High Courts, the AIDCF is seeking to invoke public sympathy through a false narrative. AIDCF is not only in defiance of the law but is also holding less than 25 million subscribers hostage, solely for its own commercial reasons and circulating misleading information,” the IBDF stated.

IBDF added that more than 90 per cent of the DPOs including DTH service providers have signed the revised interconnect agreement issued by the broadcasters in “compliance with law ensuring that the service is not disrupted for majority of the subscribers”.

Depriving consumers

Pointing out that AIDCF members who have not signed the fresh agreements, as being in the “minority”, the broadcasters industry body said that they are depriving consumers of their favourite channels.

“Under the new pricing regime, the subscriber has the flexibility of choice on whether to pick one channel or a bouquet of channels. The maximum monthly subscription fee for a channel to be included in the bouquet is ₹19, which is significantly lesser than the price of essentials in the country. The attempt of the AIDCF to invoke consumer sentiment on the price increase is belied by their attempt to increase that portion of the consumer bill that goes only to the AIDCF members, i.e. Network Capacity Fees (NCF),” the broadcasters’ industry body stated.

IBDF also claimed that the price hike during implementation is largely due to the demand for the increase in the NCF by the DPOs and not at the back of the channel prices.

It also said that AIDCF members have deliberately refused to sign the RIO leaving the broadcasters with no choice but to disconnect TV services from the DPOs that refused to comply with the regulatory framework.