World Cup will not stream free- This Federation appeals in Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal

The All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) has taken its concerns to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), raising issues with Star India’s decision to offer free streaming of cricket matches on Disney+ Hotstar’s TV channel. AIDCF, representing companies like GTPL Hathway, DEN Networks, Siti Networks, and Hathway Digital, argues that customers served by its members are demanding free access to live cricket.

The tribunal has issued a notice to Star India, requiring a response by October 3. Star India has been broadcasting the matches on the Star Sports network, which typically requires a paid subscription. This move follows JioCinema’s earlier decision to provide free access to the Indian Premier League (IPL) for all Jio app users.

AIDCF contends that this approach by broadcasters, offering content for free online while charging cable TV subscribers, creates discrimination and goes against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s regulatory framework.

Also read: ‘Injuries could cost us the World Cup’- Rahul Dravid

Furthermore, AIDCF argues that free streaming of the cricket World Cup could negatively impact its members’ businesses, as pay TV customers may migrate to OTT platforms. Additionally, they point out that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Downlinking Guidelines restrict broadcasters from providing services and content directly to customers in ways not prescribed.

In summary, AIDCF’s appeal to the TDSAT raises concerns about the unequal treatment of consumers and potential business ramifications due to the free streaming of cricket matches. The outcome of this dispute will be closely watched, considering its implications for the broadcasting industry in India. According to the FICCI-EY report, the total paid subscriber base of TV distribution platforms dropped by 5 million to 120 million in 2022, with cable TV experiencing the largest decline, down by 4 million to 64 million subscribers.

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