Tata Sky in 2018 had removed a bunch of Sony TV channels from its platform following a tiff with Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI) over the renewal of content deal. Now, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed Tata Sky to pay back all its customers, who were affected by the abrupt removal of Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI) in 2018. The regulatory authority asked the direct to home (DTH) operator to refund the amount within 21 days from the issuance of the direction.
TRAI has said the DTH operator will have to pay back funds to its subscribers for the time period between October 1 and December 5, 2018, for which Tata Sky had taken payment from subscribers. TRAI had also sought a list of subscribers from the DTH operator to whom refund has already been made. TRAI invoked section 13 (v) (b) of the subsection (1) of section 11, of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to ensure compliance to Direct to Home Broadcasting Services (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulations, 2007(08 of2007).
It said that the regulation 9A of DTH QoS Regulation 2007 reads as “No direct to home operator shall change the composition of a subscription package which has been subscribed to by a subscriber, so as to discontinue exhibition of any particular channel in that subscription package”.
The regulations also point out that if a channel that is included in a subscription package becomes unavailable on the platform, the DTH operator has to reduce subscription charges on a proportional basis for a stipulated time. The regulations also stated that the DTH operator may introduce another channel of the same genre and language as the channel which has so become unavailable to compensate for the removal.
The decision of the TRAI has come after it had issued a show-cause notice in July 2019 to Tata Sky after it had removed SPNI, asking the DTH operator to furnish some information pertaining to the DTH QoS Regulations 2007 in terms of whether the aforementioned options were provided, queries related to refunds, list of consumers refunded and a list of consumers who were yet to be refunded. They also asked Tata Sky to provide a copy of the Interconnect Agreement with Sony Picture Private Limited.