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For broadcasters, programming backed with right regulations drives growth

18-March-2004
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For broadcasters, programming backed with right regulations drives growth

Nearing its finale, the plenary session of FICCI FRAMES 2004 consisted of two keynote addresses. Kimberley Foo, Assistant Director, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore began the session with her take on Digital Asset Revolution - Fostering New Business Opportunities in digital exchange. She began with how the need of the hour was to produce, secure and monetise assets.

She said, "The increase in information and choices available to a consumer today is a challenge and the solution is to digitise existing physical assets and using new technology create more digital assets." She spoke at length of the new digital initiative that the Singapore government has undertaken to transform digital and distribution and trading center.

Explaining more on this initiative, she voiced the intention of Singapore government exploring for Indian counterparts. With that the dais was given to Michelle Guthrie, CEO, STAR TV, Hong Kong. Guthrie has clear opinions on the Indian operations in the broadcast field, some issues and some solutions and she used FRAMES as the platform to voice them all.

Citing several international examples, she traced the growth of pay television and its intricacies on the Indian scene. She spoke largely on two issues - the macro perspective of pay TV and the basic operational level. She remarked, "In basic economic terms pay TV is necessarily the buying and selling of TV viewing rights and market forces drive this growth. The concept doesn't really vary with the market but is rather just on different stages of the same life cycle. The free market decides who survives."

She expressed that DTH is the new era of satellite television and existing cable operators will be forced to supply value added services which is clearly the future of broadcast. Following this she touched on some issues of concern in the Indian pay TV market. She said, "To begin with a mandatory implementation of set top boxes does not make sense. Nowhere in the world is this followed. Same goes for subscription rates. A fixed cap on rates only kills the incentive of the operator to enhance his services and stifles growth. These are factors that should be decided by competitive market forces and nothing else."

The final concern that she voiced was of giving broadcasters the freedom to package and market their own services and a subscriber management system in place. She ended the session with pointing out key drivers of pay TV business. In this she enumerated factors like content implying great channels, a significant scale of operations that could deploy services cost effectively and finally the need to give efficient consumer service, which would mean a loyal consumer base. She said, "Give the people what they want to watch and give it well. That would justify them paying for viewing television."

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