Sun 18 North that distributes 46 channels from Viacom18, Network18, Sun TV Network and Disney, has stopped distributing the channels across the Digicable network from April 13. These include channels such as Colors, CNN-IBN, CNBC-TV18, Sun TV, Disney, Hungama, MTV, Nick, VH1, Gemini and Chutti TV, amongst others.
Sun 18 ceased the distribution in Central, North, West and East India on account of payment issues by Digicable, the company noted.
The network had issued a 21-day notice to the MSO for the payment, wherein the notice period ended on April 12. The subscription amount due is expected to be in the vicinity of Rs 5 crore.
Sun 18, which had signed a three year deal with Digicable, states that it took the step following non-payment of subscription fees and breach of agreement by Digicable.
Meanwhile, Amit Upadhyay, national operations director, Digicable notes that the dispute lies with non-payment of the carriage fees.
He says, "The deal included three networks - Sun TV Network, Disney and Viacom18 - and the carriage fee was to be paid in advance every quarter. Though Disney and Sun TV Network have cleared their payments, Viacom18 has failed to do it for the last quarter."
Elaborating further, he notes that each time, the Sun Network paid the carriage fee after collecting it from all networks, but for the last quarter starting January, Viacom18's payments were not cleared. "We have time and again reminded the Viacom18 Network about it, but they continued to make delay in payments stating financial crunch as the reason," he says.
He also noted that while until now the payment for all the networks were made together, suddenly, Sun 18 has started claiming that Viacom18 is a separate network and should be treated separately. Therefore, the subscription amount for Disney and Sun TV Network should be cleared. "In fact, after pulling out all the channels, Colors was re-started on the evening of April 13. This may be because it is the flagship channel of the network," he adds.
However, reacting to Digicable's statement, Gandhi states that the carriage fee deal should be treated separately. According to him, there are flaws with the placement of the channels. "We have been asking them to place the channels as per the contract but they have been displacing them every now and then. They even wanted to renegotiate the carriage deal in the middle of the year, just a few months into the deal. But the regulation doesn't allow this," Gandhi says.
Gandhi expects the issue to get resolved in the next seven days. He says, "We have already taken the legal route for this problem. The notice sent by us was also based on the norms of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)."
Upadhyay, meanwhile, notes that unlike in the case of broadcasters, subscription and carriage fee are the only two revenue streams for any MSO and both of them contribute almost equally to the overall monies. "The amount pending from both ends (Sun 18 and Digicable) stand equal and we are ready to go legal for this, if need be."