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‘50 channels to turn pay soon’

13-October-2004
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‘50 channels to turn pay soon’

Purely advertisement-based model for television channels is not likely to survive for long, according to Sony Entertainment Television (SET) CEO Kunal Dasgupta. Just like 46 free-to-air channels had turned pay over a period of 18 months some years ago, we’re about to witness a similar phase soon, he said on Tuesday. “In the next few months, another 50 channels would turn pay,” he added, while reasoning that both broadcasters and advertisers are not getting value just from ads. Mr Dasgupta was addressing a broadcasting seminar, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

But the subscription model is not the only alternative for broadcasters in the India market. “Broadcasters have no control over how signals are being distributed. So, multiple delivery mode is the way out,” according to Mr Dasgupta. Also, broadcasters must try to own as many copyrights as possible, as content ownership cost will only go up, he added.

Yet another significant point that Mr Dasgupta made was that, “it’s become an attention economy”. So, marketing spend must increase significantly, to touch the level of content ownership cost, he said. Currently, marketing cost is only 10 per cent of the content cost.

Besides, the Sony CEO observed that public broadcaster Prasar Bharati was set to make a comeback.

“Return of the sleeping giant,” Mr Dasgupta said, referring to Prasar Bharati’s acquisition of cricket telecast rights for the India-Australia and India-South Africa series. In the midst of fragmentation in the broadcasting industry, Prasar Bharati would gain, he said.

On the whole, he said, unified licensing regime would lead to consolidation, creating few large companies.

At the same conference, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Pradip Baijal said TRAI recommendations on broadcasting would protect the interests of existing players. “The idea is not to kill an existing business case, but to allow new technologies to help increase business,” Mr Baijal said.

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