KOLKATA: Even as India and Australia fought a keen battle for supremacy in the first test match at Adelaide, subscribers of Multiple System Operator (MSO) Manthan — who had been deprived of the action since Thursday — could finally tune in to the match. Courtesy — signals pirated by local operators.
Four of the popular Sony sports channels, including Sony Six and Sony Ten 3 that are beaming the test live, entered via the illegal route, following pressure from subscribers. Sony’s sports channels had been withdrawn from Manthan’s platform on Wednesday evening due to non-payment of dues. It left nearly two lakh Manthan subscribers across Kolkata in the lurch on the eve of the high-profile series.
This is the second occasion since June that Manthan operators pirated channel signals. During the FIFA World Cup, too, signals had to be tapped from another MSO after Sony withdrew its entire bouquet from Manthan. But cricket fans heaved a sigh of relief. “It was frustrating to miss the match, though this is not the first time for Manthan subscribers. We had to miss some matches of the football World Cup and the Asia Cup cricket earlier this year. On those occasions, too, pirated signals let us follow the action. I don’t mind as long as I can watch cricket live,” Manthan subscriber Samrat Ray said.
Cable operators use a device called the ‘encoder’ that alters the frequency of a set of channels being beamed to another MSO to match that of their own to catch the feed live. These pirated signals are usually beamed on channels that are kept free by the MSO to show movies or local content. Manthan operators are now using channels 81 to 84 to beam Sony Six, Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3 and Sony ESPN.
“This is illegal, but the operators have no choice. They are caught between the MSO management, which has run into a serious financial trouble and irate subscribers, who are naturally peeved at having to miss key sports events. Repeated blackouts have led many to quit Manthan already,” said a cable industry veteran. Manthan owes Rs 50-55 crore to broadcasters Star India, Sony and Zee, according to industry sources.
However, the transmission quality of the pirated channels were poor. “I am used to watching the matches in HD and what I got on Saturday was a poor shadow of that. But something is better than nothing,” said a New Alipore resident.
Sony and Manthan officials could be reached for comments.