The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) is likely to take up on October 3 a petition by MSOs’ body AIDCF against free streaming of cricket world cup by Disney Star.
The original petition, filed late August, had sought interim relief in the form of direction to the respondent, Star, that it should “waive the obligation of payment of subscription fees by the petitioner’s members and their subscribers for the channels of the respondent airing the said live events (Asia Cup and ICC men’s WC) , during the period of transmission/broadcast of such live events on its own platform, Disney+ Hotstar or any other such platform.”
The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) has contended that though the media rights for the Asia Cup and men’s WC are with Star India, by making the viewing free on streaming platform Disney+Hotstar it was breaching various regulatory norms, apart from causing financial loss to the federation’s members who were distributors of TV channels, including those from Disney Star.
“The crux of the present dispute is that while on one hand, Respondent has contracted for distributing and transmitting/disseminating signals of the said live events to the Petitioner and similarly situated entities on payment basis (ala carte or part of bouquet), on the other hand, the Respondent is causing transmission/dissemination in respect of the very same content
i.e. live transmission of Asia Cup Cricket Matches and Cricket World Cup, on completely free to view basis so far as the consumers of Respondent’s own platform is concerned.
“This has resulted in a clear breach of the non-discriminatory principle which underpins regulatory framework covering and controlling transmission of TV signals over Telegraph i.e. wire or wireless system.
“While it is true that Respondent is the owner of the content and is otherwise free to deal with/distribute the same in any manner as it may deem fit, however, the moment the distribution ie. transmission/dissemination is affected using airwaves and spectrum, that distribution becomes subject, strictly to the statutory rules and regulations,” the AIDCF has pleaded before TDSAT.
The petition goes on to add that as consumers of Disney+Hotstar would get to view cricket free, along with ads, AIDCF’s member-MSOs are being petitioned by their subscribers that they too should get cricket broadcast free of cost through cable TV without having to pay for the paid sports channels of Disney Star.
And, hence, the disputes tribunal should give direction to Disney Star not to stream cricket on Disney+Hotstar free.
“It is most respectfully submitted that the aforementioned directions, if not granted, will cause irreparable loss to the Petitioner and damages which may not be quantified,” the AIDCF petition said.
The petition was filed before the Asia Cup took place from August 30 to September 17. The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 will be held in India from October 5 to November 19, 2023.