Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India on Tuesday issued a strong statement against direct-to-home operator Tata Sky for switching off 32 of its top channels, including Sony Entertainment Television, SAB, Max, AXN, and Sony Pix.
Tata Sky had removed the Sony channels, apart from three channels of India Today Network, including Aaj Tak on Monday, over pricing issues, resulting in a furore on social media. Irate Tata Sky subscribers took to Twitter and Facebook to vent their anger, asking for the decision to be reversed immediately.
“SPN channels are leaders in their genres and the network is one of the most popular in the country,” a Sony spokesperson said. “By unilaterally dropping the channels, Tata Sky is depriving its viewers of the opportunity to watch world-class entertainment and live sporting action. Further, by compelling existing subscribers to give separate “missed” calls even to continue watching the SPN channels they have already paid for, Tata Sky is not acting in the consumer interest,” the spokesperson said.
SPN’s three-year distribution deal with Tata Sky had expired two months ago and the two have been renegotiating a deal. SPN had been seeking a higher share of revenue, which Tata Sky blamed for the breakdown in talks.
“Commercial negotiations with the broadcasters (SPN and India Today Network) broke down as what they were seeking would have forced us to hike our 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,” said Harit Nagpal, CEO & MD of Tata Sky.
SPN has disputed Tata Sky’s claims, saying it has not raised the channel rates. Tata Sky has 16 million subscribers, a six-million jump over three years. Five million of these subscribers are HD subscribers, with the number growing steadily.