Sony channels back on Tata Sky
New Delhi: On Thursday, subscribers of direct-to-home (DTH) platform Tata Sky were in for a pleasant surprise to see the channels from Sony Pictures Networks India back on their screens, after the two companies resolved their dispute.
Early in October, the DTH service decided to drop 22 channels from the Sony bouquet citing the breakdown of commercial negotiations.
“Yes, the Sony channels will be back on Tata Sky,” a spokesperson from SPNI confirmed. Tata Sky did not issue a formal statement till the time of publication of this article.
As part of the dispute, several Sony channels, including Sony BBC Earth (factual entertainment), Sony Yay (kids content) and Sony Mix (music content), among others, went missing from the Tata Sky bouquet available to customers.
However, if viewers had already subscribed to any of the 11 channels, including SET, Sony SAB, Sony Six, Sony Ten, Sony Pix and Aaj Tak among others, they had the option to add the missing channels at no extra cost by giving a missed call on Tata Sky’s phone numbers. Earlier, those channels were part of the overall package.
There is no clarity on the rates discussed between the two parties.
“Commercial negotiations with broadcasters broke down since what they were seeking would have forced us to hike prices. Hence we have had to drop a few channels while keeping the popular ones on. We request our subscribers’ to bear with us, as we are doing this in their best interest,” Harit Nagpal, chief executive officer and managing director, Tata Sky, had said earlier in October.
“We at Sony Pictures Networks India have not increased our channel rates over the last few years. Therefore, we are surprised at Tata Sky’s unilateral decision to drop 22 of our channels,” a statement from the company had said.
However, according to industry experts, such disputes are common in the media and entertainment industry, and players tend to come back together, given commercial considerations. In 2016, DishTV had risked losing out on television channels owned by Viacom Inc, when the two could not reach a fee structure they agreed on mutually.
“Both parties need each other. Channels like Sony, Star and Zee not only command large market share but are also available online now. So commercial agreements have to be renegotiated,” according to Abneesh Roy, an analyst with Edelweiss Securities.
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