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TV channels! pay up or be blacked out

11-January-2001
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TV channels! pay up or be blacked out

A Satellite channel blockade is on and new channels are sore over the blacking out of their channels by the major cable networks. Aaj Tak is latest to be hit after channels like Aastha and Sanskar were blocked some time back. This has become a major bone of contention between the new satellite channels and the cable networks as the channels have been asked to pay a `carriage fee’.

In the past channels like MTV, Sony and Home TV had faced similar carriage fee related hassles. Conservative estimates reveal that the carriage fee could run into several crores in case of a one-time payment.

Interestingly, rival satellite channels like STAR and Zee now own stakes in these cable networks and it is being speculated that the channel war over advertising revenues that has fuelled the latest bout of black-out.

Zee’s Siticable, Hathaway where STAR has 26 per cent equity and Hinduja’s IN have majority of the market share in terms of the C&S households. These multi-system operators have found a lucrative source of revenue via the carriage fees.

TV Today managing director G Krishnan told ET that subsequent to the launch of Aaj Tak certain cable networks had demanded hefty carriage fee. He said the one time payment being sought by Siticable was to the tune of Rs 3-4 crore.

According to industry watchers, none of the existing channels want competition or a me-too channel raiding a chunk from their advertising and viewership pie.

Meanwhile, to un-wind the entry bug, the new channels have also found incubators. Modi Entertainment Network is one such company, which has acted as a facilitator for several new channels, which were being blocked from airing into the C&S homes.

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