Broadcasters and LCOs (local cable operators) paint a different picture of the digitisation issues they face. Where broadcasters are said to be operating with a broken model, the LCOs (local cable operators) who are the last mile connect eventually serving the consumers, also claim to be operating with a broken mode.
Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI), stated that like all other constituents, LCOs also want digitisation but there are on-ground realities that will come in the way.
She shared, “We are all for digitisation , no one wants to postpone it but some factors are delaying it automatically. We are hoping digitisation should happen in time.”
Some of the most important points that lead to postponing digitisation deadline, according to her, are scarcity of set top boxes, seeding of set top boxes in every household, import of the boxes from China and Korea and also the LCOs are unaware about the procedure of fixing the boxes.
One of the points she highlighted was about the query that LCOs have to face from consumers and their inability to handle it, as LCOs have not been educated on how to educate consumers. She said, “The first drawback from LCOs’ viewpoint is they have to pay the advance to get set top boxes.”
The second issue haunting LCOs is that while they are the ones who introduced cable television viewing in India, as digitisation comes, the small operators will vanish given the revenue share of 45 per cent, where the smaller players will not be able to survive the changed business dynamics. Carriage fee is something which will also not to be shared post digitisation and MSOs will be in win-win situation with no benefits passed on to LCOs,” said Sharma.
She also expressed about carriage fees paid by broadcasters to MSOs did not reach cable operators. She insisted, “Carriage fees are distributed in crores of rupees but a significant portion goes back to the distribution team of broadcasters as kickbacks. This too must be considered.”
She further suggested that if TRAI (Telecom Authority Regulation of India) brings out revenue streams for last mile operators then revenue sharing problem will be over. And if carriage fees are fixed or some amount will go to the LCOs, then that part of the ecosystem will also be happy.
Sharma was a Speaker at the exchange4media organised NewsNext 2012, presented by Dish TV and powered by Television Street Maps.