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CASBAA India Forum: ‘Channels can expect price war, regional focus and increased capacity in India’

19-March-2008
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CASBAA India Forum: ‘Channels can expect price war, regional focus and increased capacity in India’

The day-long India Satellite Forum, organised by CASBAA in Delhi on March 18 focused on several issues related to the cable and satellite industry in India. In the first panel discussion, speakers deliberated at length on issues such as taxation in entertainment through cable and DTH, awareness amongst consumers about the different platforms of pay TV and impediments in creating such awareness.

Deepak Mathur, VP-South Asia, SES New Skies, moderated the session on ‘Is 8 operators the magic number?’ Panelists at the session included Rajiv Kattar, President, Projects, DishTV; Vikram Mehra, CMO, Tata Sky; Tony D’Silva, COO, Sun Direct; and, Martin Kaufman, Corporate Director-Consumer Devices, NDS.

Tata Sky’s Mehra said that there had been a 90 per cent increase in consumer awareness as compared to the early days in India and there was appetite for DTH in the market and higher expectations for better quality. Speaking on the impediments, he said, “There are two impediments – first, there is a lack of uniformity in framework, and second, there are multiple players. The Government must allow them to differentiate in terms of content framework.”

According to Mehra, differentiation could be done by building brand imagery and creating customer service.

DishTV’s Kattar said, “Technology is moving fast and there would be requirement to add on channels. The capacity to have more channels is in demand but in short supply, but I am sure service providers would come up with solutions. There would be channels dedicated to DTH. Moreover, High Definition (HD) TV will be coming in at some point and all service providers are aware of that. They are making themselves ready for that. All these developments are expected to take place in the next two years. There would be a natural progression from national to regional to local channels.”

By switching from Mpeg 2 to Mpeg 4, a new technology, there would be a 50 per cent increase in channels’ capacity. This would also reduce 60 per cent of the cost, NDS’ Kaufman said, adding that in India technology was evolving very fast.

According to Anjan Mitra, Executive Director, CASBAA, India, “In India, 8 operators is a big number. To be optimistic, six operators is a fair number in India.” Predicting the future, he said, “Focus would be more on regional channels.”

Mitra also pointed out that a price war had already begun in the DTH platform, which would intensify in the course of time.

“I don’t think there would be time delayed channels in India that fast. The operator has to switch over to compression technology or transponders. All we are asking is to allow the market to decide on these issues,” Tata Sky’s Mehra said.

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