Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 17-08-2011

A cable TV network in Kerala is allegedly broadcasting unauthorised feeds of ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket in order to satisfy viewer demand for coverage of the England v India Test series.

ESPN Software India, the sole licensee of the three TV channels in the South Asian nation, has filed an FIR against Pradeep P representing the Konni-based Varnam Cable Network, from the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, under the Indian Copyright Act 1957.

ESPN Software India alleges the cable network has illegally broadcast the signals of Star Cricket since 21 July using a personal direct to home (DTH) set top box without authorised agreement or copyright – leading to financial loss for the broadcast rights holder.

The action, says ESPN Software India, follows its ongoing payment dispute with multi system operator (MSO) Asianet. The MSO has claimed ESPN demands “unjustifiable commercial terms” for the distribution of its content compared to the fees charged by other sports broadcasters, and so will no longer carry the three channels.

“The franchise / link operators of Asianet across the state are unable to handle the pressure as consumers across the state are keen to watch the ongoing India-England Test series,” said a spokesperson for ESPN Software India.

“This leads to some of them succumbing to the lure of piracy. Asianet has chosen to ignore the demands of people and continues to switch off signals of ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket.”

As well as showing the cricket, coverage of live football from the English Premier League’s 2011-2012 season kicked off on the ESPN Star Sports channels across India on 13 August.

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