Neo Sports entitled to 7 per cent fee hike from Big TV

Telecom tribunal TDSAT has held that sports broadcaster Neo Sports is entitled to 7 per cent increase in subscription fee for its channels from ADAG group firm Reliance Big TV, which provides Direct-to-Home service.

'Petitioner [Neo Sports] is entitled to 7 per cent increase on the subscription fee on and from January 1, 2009,' said a TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal [TDSAT] further said that BiG TV 'must allow the Petitioner to audit its system within two weeks from date' for calculation of the average number of subscribers.

Big TV had subscribed to the sports broadcaster's two channels - Neo Cricket and Neo Sports - for its DTH platform.

The TDSAT's direction came over the plea of Neo Sports, which had entered into an agreement with the ADAG group firm in June 2008.

As per the terms and conditions, Reliance Big TV had to pay the bouquet rates [at 50 per cent of the one fixed by sectoral regulator Trai] for Non-CAS areas, which came to about Rs 19.37.

However, in December 2008 Trai brought out new regulations and allowed broadcasters a hike of seven 7 per cent from January 2009.

Following that, the Neo Sports bouquet rate came to Rs 20.73. Later, based on the SMS records submitted by Big TV, Neo Sports raised invoices.

However, dispute arose over the payability of subscription fees as per the terms of their agreement. Neo also questioned the subscriber number given by Big TV.

Neo Sports had approached TDSAT on 31 March 2011 seeking directions to Big TV to pay Rs 6.2 crore along with 18 per cent interest.
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