NEO and Tata Sky are not able to agree on pricing
Acting on a complaint from subscribers, the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has issued notice to Tata Sky to explain its position on discontinuation of two NEO channels from its package, and charging extra money for a premier HD channel allegedly in violation of service agreement.
However, TDSAT has not granted any interim relief to the complainant.
The hearing is scheduled for November 27. In a response to The Hindu, Tata Sky has denied these allegations, and said it would contest the case.
This follows a petition filed by Gurgaon-based NGO Adhikaar-the Right Path on behalf of six Tata Sky subscribers from Gurgaon and Delhi who were peeved with Tata Sky’s decision to take two NEO channels namely NEO Prime and NEO Sports off the air a few days ago.
Interestingly, NEO has also separately moved TDSAT to prevent Tata Sky from blocking its signals. NEO’s contract with TataSky was coming up for renewal but the DTH major was not keen to renew it for certain reasons.
Tata Sky has been accused of depriving its subscribers from viewing the NEO channels that they had paid for in the annual mega package.
According to the petition, two NEO channels have been arbitrarily discontinued from the package and thus preventing the subscribers from viewing some unique programmes aired exclusively on these channels. “We filed the petition after getting several complaints from Tata Sky subscribers. They don’t have money to fight the case, so we took up the matter on their behalf,” said Rajeev Yadav, National President of Adhikaar-the Right Path who is also an advocate in the Supreme Court. “The two cases, filed by an NGO and NEO came up in TDSAT last week and the interim relief sought in both the cases was rejected by the court. NEO’s contract was coming up for renewal at the end of September.
This could not be renewed as we could not come to a mutually suitable understanding on the commercials,” Harit Nagpal, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Tata Sky, told The Hindu.
According to a person familiar with the matter, NEO was asking for a high price that was not acceptable to Tata Sky considering the content the broadcaster was providing.
Breach of contract
The NGO, on its part, has accused Tata Sky of resorting to unfair trade practices, breach of contract and violation of Direct-To-Home Broadcasting (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulations, 2007 (as amended up to date).
As per the petition, Tata Sky has been charging Rs.60 extra for providing Star World Premiere HD channel though the channel should have come free of cost as per the Mega package offered by the company.
“As regards Star Premier, it is a channel that is made available to us as well as any other platform, to be sold as a la carte only and not to be included in any existing package. This category of Specials started emerging earlier this year when our competitors started carrying similar niche channels. Anticipating this, our web site as well as all promotional material since February 2013 has carried specific information that Specials are not a part of packages including Mega Pack,” Mr. Nagpal said.
Tata Sky had always operated with the highest standards of ethics in its dealings with its customers as well as business partners, and would not compromise on these under any circumstances, he added. “We have individually responded to each and every mail that has been received on these subjects from our subscribers,” he said.
Mr. Nagpal also said that Tata Sky had added 30 more channels in its bouquet without charging anything extra. “If any subscriber wants refund for NEO, we will be happy to do that,” he added.
The petitioner has urged TDSAT to direct Tata Sky to refund the total amount paid towards set-top box, installation charges, and advance money for annual subscription to customers for failure to provide the contracted service.