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DTH News : Media Pro demands subscription charges from MCOA for Asianet channels
Media Pro clarifies Asianet is a pay-TV channel
Media Pro has claimed that as a counterblast against the disconnection notices issued by Media Pro against DEN networks for non-signing and non-payment of outstanding dues towards Asianet and Asianet Plus Channels in terms of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Regulations, Kerala-based Media & Cable Operators Association (MCOA) is making false and misleading statement that Asianet channel has turned Free to Air.

Media Pro has alleged that MCOA is deliberately doing this with a view to avoid payments of subscription fee for these channels and execute a fresh agreement. Further, in retaliation to the public notice, MCOA has displaced Asianet channel and removed the Asianet Plus channel from the analogue line.

Asianet has been a pay channel since January 30, 2010, Media Pro maintains, adding this has been categorically informed to all viewers by the broadcasters Asianet Communications Ltd (ACL) via their public notice dated December 29, 2009 as per TRAI Regulations.

Initially, these channels were distributed by Asianet Communications and thereafter by Media Pro Enterprise India with effect from October 1, 2011.

In a release issued, a senior official of Media Pro stated, “Taking advantage of a technical error that has occurred on the TRAI website, which has inadvertently not mentioned the name of ‘Asianet’ channel in the list of channels distributed by Media Pro in the Rate Card published by the TRAI on May 23, 2012, MCOA is creating confusion by making false statements to the operators and viewers that the channel has become a Free to Air channel.”

This official further confirmed that Media Pro has sent letters to TRAI to make necessary changes on its website to reflect the correct position and that TRAI has clarified the same shall be done shortly.

“The operators had signed subscription agreements for both Asianet and Asianet Plus channels, which have now expired and we have been negotiating with the operators for renewal of the same for some time now. We will try our best to eradicate the problems; we are continuously running the on screen displays across our networks to inform the viewers regarding non-payment of outstanding dues by the concerned operators,” the official added.
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About 400 cable homes in Kerala are not receiving Asianet channels over subscription charges payment issue. For the record, the Kerala TV market houses 3000-4000 cable homes.
Media Pro claims that the MCOA has not paid the subscription fees for the Asianet channels for the past 18 months.

MCOA refusal
However, MCOA has a different view altogether. One of the sources also mentions that the total amount which is in question is close to Rs 2-3 crore.
Anil Kumar, general secretary, MCOA, says, "Asianet or Media Pro have never tried to approach us with any of the confusions. We still don't know if Asianet is a pay channel or an FTA. They have not spoken to our association. As per the TRAI website, for the non-CAS area, Asianet Plus is not a pay channel. They have never shown us any documents to confirm that the channel has turned a pay channel. The customers are not paying us anything. We are not charging for the channel. Den Networks being a partner in the distribution company, we expected it to negotiate with the channel on our behalf. But Den is not initiating any settlement."
He adds that the cable operators have also filed an RTI with TRAI to find out the exact situation.

Third eye view
While when afaqs! tried to explore the matter from a third party point of view, another cable operator's association, KCCL (Kerala Communicators Cable), it was learnt that a very minor part of the state has witnessed the black-out and that most of the cable operators are not participating.

Govindan, general secretary, KCCL, says, "Asianet is a pay channel since one and a half years. We already had a discussion with the channel at the time of conversion from FTA to pay. We are earning basic revenue from the customers, but there are a bunch of operators who are participating in this agitation and have got a large amount as outstanding with the channel. They have to clear the dues of the channel."

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