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Disney-Star, Sony, Zee agree to switch on cable signals after standoff

The impasse between some of the country’s top broadcasters and cable operators has ended a week after it began, informed sources have told Business Standard.

In a closed-door meeting on Thursday in New Delhi, broadcasters Disney-Star, Sony and Zee have agreed to switch on TV signals in 25 million homes by Friday, after members of the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), who were also present, assured them of signing revised interconnection offers or tariff agreements.

It may be recalled that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which is the regulator for both the telecommunication and broadcast sectors, had amended NTO 2.0 (now called NTO 3.0) in November 2022, restoring the price cap for a TV channel, which is part of a bouquet from Rs 12 to Rs 19.

This sparked a feud between cable operators and broadcasters, with the former claiming that the channel price increase would be exorbitant, while the latter claiming that it would be no more than 5-15 per cent.

The assurance to sign revised tariff agreements interestingly comes even as the Kerala High Court is hearing the matter between cable operators and broadcasters over the new tariff order (NTO) 3.0. This order has come into force since February 1 and has the support of direct-to-home operators as well as some cable operators, industry sources said.

However, members of the AIDCF, which includes top cable companies such as Hathway, GTPL and Den, all owned by Reliance Industries, NXTDigital, part of the Hinduja group, and Asianet Digital, part of the Rajan Raheja group, had not signed the revised tariff agreements with broadcasters.

At the start of the standoff last week,signals were switched off in 45 million homes, AIDCF had said, which subsequently came down to 25 million homes as some regional cable operators such as UCN in Pune and Kerala Communicators Cable in Kochi switched sides and agreed to sign revised tariff agreements with the broadcasters, it is reliably learnt.

Both AIDCF and the Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) were not available for comment when contacted.

But with the two sides now ending the spat, cable subscribers can go back to watching their favourite shows on Star, Sony and Zee once the signals are turned on. Business Standard

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