Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Mar 20, 2004
Industry & Economy
Star Group CEO meets Minister over DTH foray
New Delhi , March 19
THE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Star Group, Ms Michelle Guthrie, came calling on the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, and other officials pitching for the Group's direct-to-home (DTH) business.
A presentation was made today to some officials of the I&B Ministry on the business.
Targeting a launch during Diwali, sources said that the investments for the DTH venture is expected to be around Rs 1,500 crore. The company expects to sign up one million customers by the end of the first year and hopes to take it to 10 million in the next seven-eight years. It is initially planning to target Delhi, some of the Northern States such as Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and some of the mini-metros of Ahmedabad, Bhopal among others.
And price would be a key factor to its success. The service would be available for anything between Rs 160-Rs 300 depending on the channels selected by the subscriber. The price of the set-top box (STB) and initial installation charges are expected to be below the Rs 5,000 mark. The company will also work out several financing options.
The Star-Tatas venture called Space TV has already applied to the Government for a DTH licence. It has paid the Rs 10 crore entry fee, but has to furnish the Rs 40-crore guarantee before it can get a letter of intent from the Government. "They will be using Indian satellites and have no problems regarding the architecture of the STBs," sources added.
Space TV is likely 65 channels to begin with besides some niche channels like lifestyle, cookery and gardening.
While internationally there is a monopoly on DTH with countries having one platform, India is likely to have three DTH platforms. The Subhash Chandra-promoted ASC Enterprises has already launched its services under Dish TV, Prasar Bharati is also planning to launch its platform shortly.
Prasar Bharati also in the fray
IT'S not just Star Group that is pushing for its DTH, Prasar Bharati, too, is hoping to get its service operational from April 1. However, while the Star Group's business is expected to be a revenue generator, Prasar Bharati is trying to reach out to the far-flung areas where there is no cable connectivity or terrestrial coverage.
``The DTH service is on schedule. Transponders are being tested. We have signed a contract with Indian Space Research Organisation," said Mr K.S. Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati. The Government is expected to invest over Rs 300 crore in this DTH venture.
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