TRAI files case against ESPN | business | Hindustan Times
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TRAI files case against ESPN

Broadcast regulator TRAI filed a case seeking prosecution of sports broadcaster ESPN for non-compliance of its direction on pricing plan for DTH operators.

business Updated: Aug 06, 2008 22:03 IST

Broadcast regulator TRAI on Wednesday filed a case seeking prosecution of sports broadcaster ESPN for non-compliance of its direction on pricing plan for Direct-To-Home operators.

"We have filed a case against ESPN Software Indian Limited before the CJM court today for non-compliance of directions issued by us to the sports broadcaster", TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra told PTI.

He said TRAI does not have the power to penalise, but it can file a case to prosecute the offenders before any court of the country. "So, we have decided to prosecute the broadcaster before the civil court," he said, adding that the regulator has also written to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry for revoking the registration of its three channels.

ESPN's channels include Star Sports and Star Cricket in India and very soon it is set to telecast the Champions' Trophy, the English and Spanish domestic football leagues and the US Open (Tennis).

Misra said TRAI had earlier warned ESPN and issued a show-cause notice against the company. The regulator had asked ESPN as to why a complaint should not be filed before the court as the broadcaster had failed to adhere to TRAI regulations. TRAI has said that it had decided to take stringent steps against ESPN as the broadcaster in its reply had failed to 'give satisfactory answers'.

When contacted, RC Venkateish, MD, ESPN Software India Private Limited said, "We are surprised to read the statements purportedly attributed to senior officials of TRAI. We have given our detailed response to TRAI explaining our position that we have complied with what was required by the TRAI in letter and spirit."

"We have not heard back from the TRAI on our response. Additionally issues which are relevant in this matter are also pending for consideration before (sector tribunal) TDSAT which has also been explained to TRAI.

"In our view it is inappropriate to comment any further in this matter for the present. We will take further recourse for appropriate remedies if and when the need arises," Venkateish said.

TRAI has capped the cable TV rates in all non-CAS areas across the country, and had directed broadcasters that they can charge a maximum of a 50 per cent premium on these rates when they offer their channels to DTH players. ESPN, however, did not fall in line with the rates prescribed by TRAI, which resulted in DTH player TataSky dropping its channels from its basic bouquet.

TataSky then asked its customers to pay extra to avail them.