On the 23rd of May, Chennai based Saimira Access Technologies signed a MoU with the Film Producers Council of Chennai. This will allow Saimira to telecast unreleased films to viewers with the help of a Set-top-box. This set top box, called the 'magic box', will be installed in homes and hotels for free, if one subscribes to the New Film Channel.
With close to 10 channels in Tamil Nadu that telecast films on a daily basis, roughly 32 films are telecast per day. And despite a law that prohibits the showing of new films, channels are constantly buying rights to new films to increase their viewership. According to Ibrahim Rowther, President, Film Producers Council, "This could work to a producer's advantage if his film is not doing business. But if the film is doing well in theatres, the distributors are effected."
When asked about the MoU with Saimira, Rowther explained, "There are several films that weren't released either because of financial difficulties or the lack of stars. They will now be seen using the set top boxes that Saimira provides for its subscribers."
Backed by investment houses like SCPAL (Schroders Capital Partners Asia Ltd) and GTV Global technology ventures (Bank of America and Nomura), Saimira has acquired funds of approximately 21 crores. Saimira will provide Set top boxes that will enable viewers to pay on for those channels that they want to see. For the new films however, subscribers will be charged a nominal fare. Part of the revenue generated will reached the producers of the films, while operators receive carrier fees.
When asked why the set top boxes were being given for free, a Saimira official explained that it was their promotional tactic to ward off competition from cable operators who would charge a certain amount for these set top boxes. He added that they were targeting 60 lakh houses initially.
For now the Film Producer's Council seem content, as this could be a boon to several producers who have lost money on accord of films that weren't released. On being asked if they were worried about whether popular films would be shown to entice viewers, Rowther explained it wasn't impossible. He added that satellite television has threatened the film industry in no other state as much as it has effected Tamil Nadu.
On all most Tamil satellite channels, it is feature films that are on top of the TVR charts clearly demonstrating popularity. And with channels buying the rights to movies still at muhurat stage, there is much speculation over which channel will finally get to show Rajinikanth's Baba.
Meanwhile Saimira officials are not disclosing which movies they intend to show just yet.