Following a lengthy hassle over the increased prices of Star Channels on Airtel Digital TV, finally, both the companies have arrived at an agreement where Airtel Digital TV has agreed to broadcast Star Channels without any obstruction which involves the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Star Sports Network. Previously discussions were ongoing between both the parties related to a la carte deal which would mean people would have to pay the fees depending on the channel subscription that will be available to the viewers as an add-on option, also the discussions involved a decision regarding reference interconnect offer (RIO). If the agreement hadn’t concluded like the way it did, it would have signalled the total departure of Star Channels from Airtel Digital TV.
Both the parties went on Twitter to release the update to the common public and said the following in the official statement “Airtel Digital subscribers will continue to get uninterrupted access to all of Star’s programmes including Vivo IPL, following an agreement reached between Star and Airtel. Both parties would like to assure their subscribers that the two companies are committed to bringing more and more high-quality content and experience to their consumers.”
The whiff of the matter was caught by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), post which the Tribunal ruled that both the parties should arrive at a mutual agreement before March 31 else the RIO deal would take effect automatically on April 1.
Following this, Airtel Digital TV filed the petition in TDSAT challenging Star’s disconnection notice. After that, Airtel was approached by the Tribunal to clear the dues except for the disputed amount of Rs. 9.8 crores. After the Tribunal moved forward on the decision of directing Airtel Digital TV, Star filed an application before the TDSAT to direct Airtel to go ahead with the RIO deal effective 9th March and also asked the opposing party to clear the dues worth 17.8 crores.
After these developments in the Tribunal and growing heat between the two parties, caused both of them to engage in an online war where Airtel Digital TV accused Star Channels of increasing the prices of broadcasting. Star Channel lashed back by urging the customers of Airtel Digital TV to switch to other DTH operators. Both the parties used Social media and ads to stretch this war for quite some time.
Despite the growing tension with the entertainment company, Airtel Digital TV didn’t want the public to miss out on the IPL, to accomplish that they assured their customers that they will get Star Sports 1/Star Sports 1 Hindi channels as part of their base pack till May 30.
It is interesting to note that Star has also issued disconnection notices to DTH operators Dish TV and Videocon d2h, who have since merged to become a single entity, in fact signalling that Star is ready to break off ties with these platforms. The broadcaster has paid a whopping Rs 16,347.5 crore to secure the IPL media rights till 2022 and is leveraging the massive fan following and popularity of the league to get more lucrative deals from distribution platforms.