Pay channel prices are set to go up with the major broadcasters planning a revision in the rate structure, a move which could fuel further volatility in the highly charged cable TV industry.
STAR India has asked cable TV operators to increase their declaration of subscriber base by 58 per cent to enjoy a price cut of Rs 3 a month per subscriber with effect from January 1. Currently, STAR charges Rs 30 for its bouquet of channels. If cable operators do not pay for more subscribers, they will be charged at the rate of Rs 45 a month per consumer.
Sony-Discovery’s One Alliance has indicated to cable operators that the price of their bouquet of channels would go up from a monthly fee of Rs 55 to Rs 65 per subscriber. Zee-Turner bouquet is planning to hike its price by Rs 20 from Rs 55 to Rs 75. “We have been told by Sony and Zee that these would be the prices. But no final communication has been made,” said the head of a leading multi system operator (MSO).
STAR claims that it has brought the prices down, but admits that it wants to be paid for more subscribers. “We have introduced a few other slabs in our pricing structure. We want operators to increase their subscriber declarations so that under-reporting in the industry would go down. In that case, we are actually reducing our prices,” said STAR India chief operating officer Sameer Nair.
Cable TV operators say that this is a camouflage as the outgo towards pay channels would go up. “STAR wants us to increase the declaration of our subscribers. ESPN STAR Sports has taken a similar route. The end result is that we will have to pay the broadcasters more,” said an official in a Mumbai-based MSO. ESPN STAR Sports recently announced that cable operators will have to pay Rs 39.50 if they do not increase the declaration of their subscribers, up from Rs 32 a month per consumer.
With the broadcasters planning to revise their pricing structure, operators say that they will be left with little choice but to increase the monthly cable bill to subscribers.