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Star's closed architecture system may slow its DTH plans

02-April-2001
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Star's closed architecture system may slow its DTH plans

Even as all potential Direct-to-Home (DTH) players are waiting for a clarification on the technicalities of the set-top box to be used for DTH broadcasting, Star has a bigger problem at hand as it has been using the closed-architecture set-top box for its DTH service worldwide. According to the DTH guidelines issued by the government, open architecture (non-proprietary) set-top boxes must be used by the DTH players.

The guidelines state: ``The open-architecture (non-proprietary) set-top box, which will ensure technical compatibility and effective inter-operability among different DTH service providers, shall have such specifications as laid down by the government from time to time.'' Also, the guidelines say that: ``the licensee shall ensure subscribers' interest through a conditional access system which is compatible with an open-architecture (non-proprietary) set-top box.'' And that, ``the licensee shall not use any equipment which is unlawful.''

New Corp, which uses closed system set-top boxes, will have to invest a lot more in manufacturing set-top boxes in keeping with the government guidelines. Therefore News Corp will have to price the open-architecture set-top boxes much higher than its closed set-top boxes.

At present the company has not initiated any talks with any set-top box manufacturer. On whether there are chances of Star going for the same brand of set-top box that it uses the world over-sourced from NDS Ltd, UK-the spokesperson says: ``This will depend on the open architecture guidelines.''

So, even as the government has allowed the introduction of direct-to-home television broadcasting on Ku band via satellite, broadcasters have yet to sort out the technical problems in making it a reality in India. And consumers don't know yet whether they'll need one set-top box or many to access all the TV channels.

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