"Barring some last-minute compromise on pricing between TV channel heads, millions of cricket lovers are in for severe withdrawal cramps in the coming week. Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV, two major direct-to-home (DTH) service providers, have decided to switch off two high-definition channels of ESPN STAR Sports from their bouquet—ESPN HD and STAR Cricket HD—right on the eve of the India-Pakistan cricket series. ESPN STAR is the official telecaster for the tourney," Business Standard reported on 21 December.
This morning, ESPN released front page advertisements in The Economic Times and Business Standard clarifying the situation.
On the issue of rates, according to regulations, any revision of channel prices by a broadcaster can happen only with prior regulatory approval. Firstpost understands from a source that no such application has been made by ESPN STAR. Despite this, sections of the media have reported on the ‘price revision’, which has been categorically denied by this morning’s advertisement.
Tata Sky, Videocon d2H and Relaince Digital TV will, indeed, carry the channels at the same rates as they have been available to the consumer earlier. As far as the other DTH platforms are concerned, it is up to the operators to decide whether or not they want to offer the channels to consumers. Current regulations dictate a "must provide" by broadcasters – but do not dictate a "must carry" by DTH operators and MSOs.
In a nutshell, therefore, this is what the situation is. STAR Cricket HD and ESPN HD are available on DTH platforms that have chosen to carry them at rates which are exactly the same as they were earlier – there has been absolutely no price hike whatsoever.
So go on, enjoy the cricket today, if you’re a subscriber on any of the three platforms who will carry the HD channels – it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg.