Sony channels being pulled off Tata Sky have left viewers hapless

It was late evening yesterday, when the phone rang at our editorial desk.

“Hello, IWMBuzz office?” 

“Yes, please say”. 

“Sir, yeh Sony kab aayega Tata Sky pe…KBC dekhna hai”

 “Jaldi…hopefully” 

“Sir, kuchh pata chale toh batana, please”.

 “Sure”.

(call disconnected)

This was sort of a distress call we received from one of our readers, who is evidently flummoxed by Sony channels vanishing from her TV, aghast on missing her daily dose of entertainment. Sports enthusiasts too are seeing red.

That Tata Sky and Sony have locked horns is public knowledge. Much has been scribbled about the on-going fracas. Tata Sky removed 32 channels of Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and three of TV Today Network due to pricing issues. Though, as per latest reports, talks are on between the two warring parties, Tata Sky users are still unable to watch their favourite shows.

In the entire hullabaloo, and deals gone awry debate, it’s the consumers who are bearing the ultimate brunt. It’s a perfect scenario of who blinks first. 

Verbal Duel

Statement from Sony Pictures Networks India

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Tata Sky have, over the years, developed an excellent working relationship. It is therefore unfortunate that Tata Sky has unilaterally chosen to drop 22 SPN channels from its subscription, even though SPN has not increased the rates of its channels. 

SPN channels are leaders in their genres and the network is one of the most popular in the country. 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 consumer interest. 

We would like to reassure Tata Sky subscribers that the SPN channels are available under the TRAI mandated Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO). All they have to do is call Tata Sky and demand that the channels be provided to them.

Tata Sky Comment

Harit Nagpal, CEO & MD of Tata Sky, said, “Commercial negotiations with the broadcasters 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. While doing so, we are paying Sony much more for the 11 channels retained on the A la Carte rate, versus the contracted rate for three times these channels. We request our subscribers to bear with us, as we are doing this in their best interests.”

(The Hindu Businessline)

We, at IWMBuzz, deal with end consumers on a daily basis, hence get reactions of those who have no clue what is going on behind the scenes. For them, Tata Sky is merely a box which helps them watch their favourite shows and stars.

Vasai resident, Sumit Lopes, says, “My mom came and told me that something has happened to the TV. Some channels are missing. I thought the data plan must have expired. However, when I checked, I had enough balance left. When I switched on SAB, it asked me to give a missed call. I did; however, nothing happened initially. Later I tried again and channels were finally back. The process was a bit cumbersome and I want to ask why did I have to do that when I had already paid for my data plan?”

The post ‘taking off’ of channels interaction with customers became sort of a nightmare for Tata Sky, it seems. #BoycottTataSky made social media trends and celebs too shared their ire on the entire mess.

Sony’s three-year contract with Tata Sky had expired on July 31, and since then, the two have been negotiating on a new pricing deal.

We can only hope that differences are ironed out soon, and TV lovers continue to enjoy their favourite shows, hassle free.

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