Dish TV, India's largest DTH platform has written to the Indian Broadcasters Foundation, complaining against broadcasters offering free live streaming of Pay channels on OTT platforms.
"Broadcasters, on one hand, keep on charging huge subscription fee from us and, on the other hand, provide the same content/channel to the OTT platforms at highly subsidized rates, thereby not only creating a non-level field, but also causing huge detriment to the subscribers of Dish TV. Availability of same content/channel on alternate distribution platform on much cheaper rate vis-avis DTH has started resulting into migration to the alternate distribution platforms," Dish TV has written to the IBF.
Written by DishTV MD Jawahar Goel, the Dish TV 11 August 2017 letter also questions the move of Pay channels offered free on FreeDish, shifting the TV market's business model to advertising driven.
Goel has termed both these practices "prejudicial & discriminatory."
The letter further urged "It will be critical for your (IBF) members to spell out the strategy to hold/ grow the pay TV market, which has been contributing to around 35-40% of the total revenue of the pay broadcasters."
Reports indicate that IBF has called for feedback, and a possible vote from its members.
The IBF includes 7 major members, viz. Star, Zee, Sony, IndiaCast, Sun (TV group), Discovery & Times, which not only control the IBF but also are the major players collecting 99% of the subscription and ad revenues of the Indian broadcasting industry.
The letter even warned that certain actions of the broadcasters could amount to breach of crossmedia restrictions, since several broadcasters provide their Pay channels at subsidised rates to their own OTT platforms, eg: Star's Hotstar, Viacom18's Voot, Sony Pictures Entertainment's SonyLIV & Zee's dittoTV.
"Availability of same content/channel on alternate distribution platform on much cheaper rate vis-a-vis DTH rate has started resulting in(to) migration to the alternate distribution platforms," the letter highlighted.
STAR BHARAT LAUNCH CHALLENGED
In a related development, Dish TV and Videocon d2h have moved the TDSAT challenging Star India's move to replace its Hindi GEC 'Life OK' with a Free To Air GEC - Star Bharat. The DTH platforms have demanded a refund from Star for loss of Pay revenues.
Star contends that Like OK is merely re-branded to Star Bharat and offered on FreeDish. The implication is that Star Bharat will continue as a pay channel on other platforms, but FTA on FreeDish.
The 2 DTH platforms even asked the TDSAT to stay Star India from launching Star Bharat of FreeDish. The tribunal rejected this demand.
Star India was given 4 weeks to reply & the 2 DTH platforms will then have to file their counteraffidavits. The next hearing is scheduled in October 2017.