Several cricket fans in Delhi might have to watch the forthcoming India-England Test series, beginning on Thursday, at their friends or relatives' houses since the telecast may not be available throughout the city, unless certain issues are resolved.
The series will be available on ESPN Star Sports' new channel, Star Cricket, which is currently not being telecast to all direct-to-home (DTH) and cable TV households.
Viewers in the city's CAS areas though, will be able to watch the channel bt subscribing to it. A few multi-system operators (MSOs) and a big DTH operator have clashed with ESPN-Star Sports over Star Cricket's subscription charges and do not telecast the channel as of now. The broadcaster has officially reached an agreement with Incable for telecasting the channel. An unofficial agreement has also been reached with Dish TV, said a source. However, viewers connected with MSOs Hathway and Siti Cable, who together control a chunk of Delhi's cable TV market, will not be able to watch the channel if the matter is not sorted out by Thursday.
Tata Sky subscribers will also not get to see the channel if the impasse continues. In Mumbai, almost 75 per cent of cable and satellite households will be able to watch the series, said Rajesh Kaul, Vice President, Affiliate Sales, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd.
Star Cricket is available in the CAS areas currently for Rs 5, based on the TRAI guidelines, which do not permit a price higher than that for any pay channel. As far as the one-dayers are concerned, ESPN will telecast them with English commentary while the Hindi version will be available on Star Cricket. The one-dayers will also have to be shown on DD as part of the implementation of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007.
Nobody from the corporate communications of Hathway was available for comment at the time of filing the story. Earlier, ESPN-Star Sports had sent notices to MSOs, angry over the alleged non-compliance with TRAI guidelines concerning subscriber information as well as payment issues. The MSOs felt that in the non-CAS areas, Star Cricket, with a rate of Rs 28 per month, did not have many takers, making the distribution unviable. However, sources say an agreement is in the offing.