With the State's biggest cable television operator and the world's leading sports channels locking horns over subscription fee matters, sports lovers here are a disappointed lot, already missing live coverage of the ongoing India-West Indies test cricket series.

With Asianet Satellite Communications, the cable television network of which is spread across the State claiming the largest subscriber base, issuing notifications to switch off services of ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket, viewers will further miss action from the Indian cricket team's forthcoming tour of England. This comes after Ten Sports and some channels from the Zee group went missing from the Asianet menu.

Rajib Mukherji, senior director (affiliate sales), ESPN Software India Private Limited, informed The Hindu that viewers across Kerala would miss live action of leading sporting events including the on-going Wimbledon, Formula One racing, India's cricket tour of England, Champions League T20 and even India's tour of Australia later this year that would telecast on ESPN.

“Asianet is taking advantage of the distribution monopoly on the ground. They want all the subscription from the ground, from each and every household, but are not ready to pass on the same to the consumers. This is unfair. If they are switching off channels, then they should also reduce effective consumer price on the ground,” Mr. Mukherji said. Viewers would still have to pay for these channels, though they were not aired.

Refuting allegations that ESPN had increased prices on the ground, Mr. Mukherji said ESPN was part of a regulated industry and that no broadcaster could increase the price unilaterally.

Though a local cable operator said efforts were on to solve the crisis, a response from Asianet's corporate office at Thiruvananthapuram was not available.

Keywords: cable tv