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The last mile: Competition in the times of cable, CAS & IPTV

The last mile: Competition in the times of cable, CAS & IPTV

Author | Supriya Thanawala | Wednesday, Mar 28,2007 8:56 AM

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The last mile: Competition in the times of cable, CAS & IPTV

In this changing new media scenario of emerging distribution systems, the broadcast industry is being left with an interesting new challenge. Consumer choice is growing, and in the late morning session on Day II, broadcasters and communication professionals came together to discuss what’s in store for the consumer, broadcaster and distributors who need to deal with this new competition.

Moderated by TAM Media Research CEO LV Krishnan, the session ‘Last Mile: Battle of Reaching Consumers’ comprised of speakers Ashok Mansukhani, Director of IndusInd Media and Communications, Jagi Mangat Panda, Director and Co-promoter of Ortel Communications, Vanitha Narayanan, VP, Communications Sector, Asia Pacific, IBM, Priya Prakash, Innovation Executive, Future Media and Technology, BBC, UK and Marcelino Ford – Livene, GM of Digital Home Group, Intel and who is also the Governor of Interactive Media, Academy of Television Arts and Science and Sudip Malhotra, Publisher of Satellite and Cable TV.

The session looked at the CAS and DTH systems, and finally discussed the growth of IPTV in India, which is currently just being shaped.

Putting forth his views, Krishnan said, “The difference between an FMCG goods producer and a cable or a satellite provider is that pricing cannot be defined as easily, and the satellite provider often doesn’t even know what his viewership is like. And the high pricing amount that cable operators got into has led to the reversal to CAS system,” he said.

Mansukhani, who has been one of the pioneers behind CAS, said that the reason why it worked is that earlier, the power which was with the distributors was now shifting to the consumers. “They first voted with their remote controls through TAM, and now they can decide which channels they want to see, with the paid channel systems of CAS. With the coming of IPTV, there is going to be a hyper competition and the shift of power will completely be in favour of the consumer,” he said.

Adding he said, “IPTV is going to be a great threat to cable operators which will work through MTNL and VSNL. Both MTNL and VSNL have a fantastic reach and I do believe this will be a threat – the business that they have built since years,” he commented.

Sudip Malhotra, Publisher of Satellite and Cable TV said, “CAS is also regulated at a high level. The question is about how the percentage is divided. The Rs 5 that is being charged by the regulator is also divided according to his own division.” It is this division that needs to be worked out fairly, he felt, because the ratio may not always be equal.

Kuldeep Goyal, CGM of BSNL, Maharashtra however said that IPTV does not have a problem of bandwidth: “The number of channels can be chosen, so it does not require any excessive amount of bandwidth. Also, you can watch one or as many channels that you want at any point in time; there is unlimited interactivity, where rewind, stop and forward on a film is possible, which cable does not provide currently. Also the quality of the picture is very good since it is digital and I think IPTV has a great future. It is going to be a very big opportunity for content providers.”

Mansukhani however feels that the basic issues will not change. “Even today, after one has got access to CAS, I see the same films being played again and again. Any type of service will continue to have all the same elements in some manner or the other,” he said. Malhotra however felt that IPTV will take some additional time before it poses a competition to cable operators. “Cable operators will still remain. DTH in itself is still just entering households,” he said. Added Goyal, “IPTV is already working in many places and it is something that is growing.”

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