The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has served a notice to Disney Star, regarding the free streaming of cricket matches on Disney+ Hotstar during the recently concluded Asia Cup and the upcoming ICC Men's Cricket World Cup.
The notice was issued after the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) formally urged TDSAT to step in and direct Star India to cease its provision of complimentary live cricket streaming services through Disney+ Hotstar.
The AIDCF was allegedly hiding behind the consumers of its member MSOs stating that they received demands for free access to live cricket matches from their consumers.
The tribunal has asked Disney Star to submit a reply to the allegations and concerns raised by AIDCF by October 3.
The AIDCF is mainly led by Hathway, Den and GTPL (owned by Reliance Industries).
On the other hand, Reliance-owned JioCinema was offering IPL and other sporting free for viewers.
With Viacom18 winning both TV and digital rights for BCCI bilateral matches, JioCinema was quoted saying that it would continue to offer the bilateral international cricket matches for free.
Going by this petition, Viacom18 may have to offer BCCI matches for free on TV as well.
In its official petition, AIDCF has contended that the broadcaster is practising discrimination by levying charges on cable TV subscribers for content that is being provided for free to Disney+ Hotstar users.
The federation has underscored that the act of charging fees for the same content on television while providing it for free on the Internet goes against the regulatory guidelines established by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. These guidelines are designed to promote an inclusive environment, ensuring transparency, non-discrimination, and safeguarding the interests of subscribers.
Moreover, the federation said that offering free streaming services could have adverse effects on the operations of its member firms, such as GTPL Hathway, DEN Networks, Siti Networks, and Hathway Digital. This is because pay TV customers may potentially migrate to OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms in pursuit of cost-free content.