Others Casbaa India Satellite Forum: ‘Digitalisation is the way ahead, but there will be co-existence’

Casbaa India Satellite Forum: ‘Digitalisation is the way ahead, but there will be co-existence’

Author | Puneet Bedi Bahri | Wednesday, Mar 18,2009 8:20 AM

Casbaa India Satellite Forum: ‘Digitalisation is the way ahead, but there will be co-existence’

The Casbaa India Satellite Forum 2009, which was held in Delhi on March 17, saw eminent speakers from the DTH, cable, IPTV, HITS and broadband industry sharing their views. Digital technologies have created shifts in the way people access and view content, and hence shift in the models of broadcast and distribution companies. The DTH subscriber market in India has seen accelerated growth. In a short span of time, the entry of multiple players, including launches by telecom players Reliance and Airtel, has resulted in greater awareness of DTH services and subscriber acquisitions. The competition between cable, DTH, HITS, broadband and IPTV has become critical, but there will be co-existence, speakers at the Forum felt.

The competitive pressure has resulted in higher customer acquisition costs and price-based competition. Tata Sky, for example, offers multiple value-added services through its ‘Actve’ brand, such as gaming, educational channels for kids, matrimony services and cookery shows. Airtel has a tie-up with Infosys for offering interactive and digital applications. E-commerce solutions could use the DTH platform to reach out to a premium customer base. These value-added services would be critical to avoid competition based on pricing alone and to retain existing customer base.

Speaking on the shift of viewers, Salil Kapoor, COO, DishTV, said, “We see a lot of viewers shifting to the digital space, which, as of now, is the best technology available. There are challenges, too, here – service tax, licence fee and entertainment taxes being some of them. The real growth is what we have seen in the last 5-6 months, but there is a long way ahead.”

On a positive note, Vikram Kaushik, CEO, Tata Sky, said, “The Indian pay TV market is expected to grow six times by 2017. DTH is a unique industry, which gives better quality, picture and sound. The advertiser knows that he is reaching his target audience, also I want to compliment the regulators who have in the past five years done a lot and have come a long way. Though going ahead on a level plain field, we have to clear a lot of obstacles on the way.”

Ashutosh Srivastava, DTH Head, Big TV, said, “We have looked at this market from a telecom prospective. The outcome is very positive despite the economic slowdown and the challenges it has put forward. The industry has doubled in the last six months. The industry is growing and there is space for everyone. And this can be achieved by offering new and enhanced services to customers.”

Preet, Director - Finance and Operations, BBC World India, noted, “The key word for us is digitisation. We hope that digitisation will come to cable as well. The scope is huge for new entrants and the existing ones too. The value added services that they deliver will be the differentiator.”

According to N Arjun, Executive Director, Bharti Telemedia, “The key is going to be monitoring of the digital growth. There has been a lot of interaction with the Government on the same, and a number of regulations have been formed for the benefit of consumers. Value-added services will give DTH operators the edge. DTH operators should, thus, look at ways of monetising these interactive services as it also helps in retaining or adding new subscribers.”

Prithipal Singh, VP, IPTV India Forum, felt, “We are in an era where we are talking about premium services for the consumers. I feel it is the customer who is the ultimate leader who decides which service he wants.”

While Vikram Mehra, CMO, Tata Sky, believed, “It is going to be a win-win for all technologies in a country as huge as ours. DTH has a big cost advantage, which cable and IPTV don’t. So, DTH will have an edge, but there will be co-existence.”

Amitabh Kumar, Director - Corporate, Zee Television, noted, “We need to take the whole thing with a pinch of salt; we are in a country of policy vacuum. We are talking about technology, but the fact remains that there is no policy in this country for the same. There should be some attention given in this direction. I feel, unless the Government takes some serious action, we are really going to lag behind.”

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