Star India has reportedly issued disconnection notices to DTH operators Dish TV and Videocon d2h a month after Airtel’s Digital TV was forced to drop Star TV channels from its subscription package.
According to a report on televisionpost.com, the notice has been issued due to non-signing of agreements by the two DTH operators. It should be noted that Dish TV and Videocon d2h are in the process of completing a merger which would result in a combined subscriber base of 29 million.
Earlier this month, Star had issued a disconnection notice to Bharti Telemedia for similar reasons that included non-signing of the subscription agreement, non-payment of subscription fees and non-submission of subscriber reports. Star’s channels were temporarily discontinued from the bundled packs on the 8th March but continued to be available on a la carte basis to subscribers.
Arbitration of the dispute is reportedly pending with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which has directed both the parties to negotiate and settle. TDSAT has also directed Bhati Telemedia to clear all the dues to Star India as indicated in Star’s letter dated 7 March, except an amount of Rs. 9.8 crore.
Having paid Rs 16,347.5 crore ($2.55 billion) to secure the broadcast rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next five seasons, Star has reportedly been insisting on a huge hike in subscription fee pay-outs from distribution platforms.
Videocon d2h and Dish TV merger
On December 15, 2017, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting approved the proposed merger of VIdeocon d2h with and into Dish TV. Speaking about the merger during the company’s earnings call, Dish TV’s chairman and MD Jawahar Goel said that they will file the relevant intimations and e-forms with the Registrar of Companies in the last week of February 2018. He added that the company is fully aware of its “shareholders growing impatience with respect to the merger. We would like to assure them that work around the completion of the deal is going ahead with full steam now and should be completed soon.”
The companies had first announced the merger back in November 2016 and had said that they expect to complete it by the second half of 2017.
As of December 31, 2017, Dish TV had a net debt of Rs 850 crore, while Videocon d2h’s gross debt was Rs 1,960 crore and net debt around Rs 1,350 crore.
Dish TV’s license fee is Rs 950 crore, and Videocon’s license fee (as part of contingent liability) is around Rs 575 crore.