STAR’s joint venture partner Tata Group will provide the call centre support for the direct-to-home (DTH) service. “The call centre requirements for DTH operations will be handled by the Tatas,” said STAR Group chief executive officer Michelle Guthrie.
The Tatas are planning to consolidate their call centre operations. A wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons will look at serving requirements of Tata Group as well as other companies. Said a Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) spokesperson: “Currently all the call centre requirements of the telecom companies within the group are being consolidated to be serviced by an independent 100 per cent subsidiary company of Tata Sons. This company will also look at serving the contact centre requirements of other Tata Group as well as non-Tata Group companies.”
For TTSL, the Group has call centres in all the 6 circles it operates in. The current employee strength across these centres is about 500 people. This, according to the company, is expected to increase in line with the aggressive subscriber growth planned by TTSL to a level of at least 2500 by March 2005.
The Tatas, however, did not want to commit on whether they would be looking after the call centre support for the DTH project.
When asked, the Group spokesperson said, “the call centre decision will be decided by the company that will run the DTH venture.”
Tata Group holds 80 per cent equity in Space TV, the joint venture company for the DTH project.
The balance 20 per cent will be held by a subsidiary company of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The total project cost is estimated at Rs 1,600 crore.
Space TV will use NDS encryption systems for the DTH service, a company source said. The set-top boxes will be from Pace. This is a similar arrangement which News Corp has for BSkyB DTH service in UK.
Meanwhile, Vikram Kaushik has joined Space TV, the joint venture company between Rupert Murdoch-promoted News Corp and Tata Group for the DTH project, as its chief executive officer. He was executive vice president, marketing, with Colgate-Palmolive. Shankar De will soon join as the company’s chief financial officer. He had worked for the international investment banking firm Rothschild.
According to Ms Guthrie, the company’s focus this year will be DTH, launch of new channels and programming. STAR lacks a kids channel in India.