Tata Sky Takes All Sony Channels Off Its Platform, Sony And Tata Sky Trade Allegations In Public

The tussle between platforms and businesses is familiar in the tech world — sellers on Flipkart and Amazon keep agitating over their policies and practices, and news publishers are always up in arms over how Facebook treats their pages and their reach. But in India, the battle between a platform and businesses running on it has boiled over — and millions of people are affected.

Yesterday people discovered that Sony’s many channels were suddenly unavailable on Tata Sky’s DTH service. Instead of the usual programming, users were greeted with a screen asking them to give a missed call to watch the programming. Calling the number didn’t restore the channels for many people, and they quickly began posting on Twitter around how the channels were unavailable, and the hashtag, #WhyIsSonyNotComing, was soon trending nationwide.


To its credit, Tata Sky appears to be proactively responding to customer complaints on Twitter. It’s been telling users that the entire boutique of Sony channels, including Sony, SET and Sony Six, have been taken off because of a payments dispute with Sony. “Tata Sky has dropped 27 channels and services from its platform from 01-Oct-2018 (00:00 hours),” wrote the company. “Commercial negotiations with broadcasters broke down because what they were seeking would have forced us to hike our prices. Hence we have had to drop a few channels while keeping the popular ones on. Please bear with us for some time because we are doing this in our subscriber’s interest,” it added.

But Sony has today carried out advertisements in major newspapers denying that it raised prices. “Attention Tata Sky subscribers, are your favourite Sony Network channels missing?,” it asks. “Please be informed that Sony Network has not increased the price of any of its 32 channels.” It then exhorted customers to contact Tata Sky or change their DTH provider. “To continue watching your favourite Sony channels call Tata Sky..or switch to any other DTH or cable operator,” the ad said.

sony vs tata sky


While Tata Sky and Sony continue to throw barbs at each other in public, it will come as scant relief to the nearly 15 million Tata Sky subscribers who pay it a monthly fee to be able to watch their favourite shows. Also, Sony doesn’t seem to have been the only broadcaster Tata Sky appears to be feuding with — just last month, it had carried out advertisements in newspapers saying that it would take Network 18 channels off air over a payments dispute. Network 18, which runs channels like Colors, Rishtey and CNBC, had responded with ads of its own. But Tata Sky appears to have reached an settlement with Network 18 — as of today, its channels are available on its service as normal.

But these public skirmishes will do little to instill people’s faith in DTH services. DTH services are already competing with on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, and several people, especially in the metros, have already given up their DTH connections in favour of these platforms. To make matters worse, the spectre of JioGigaFiber looms in the background — Reliance has announced that it will provide 1 Gbps connections fibre connections directly into people’s homes, which will not only provide internet services but also carry TV. DTH providers are already under threat from multiple quarters — this probably isn’t the best time for them to taking channels people have already paid for off air.