Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jun 23, 2005
Industry & Economy - Radio/TV
Star open to offering channels to Chandra's DTH platform
New Delhi, June 22
CONSUMERS subscribing to the Subhash Chandra-promoted direct-to-home (DTH) service may soon be able to watch the rival Star group's bouquet of channels.
With DTH broadcasting set to take off in a big way after the Government having cleared the proposals of Space TV and Sun Direct, Star India is veering towards offering its channels to these platforms.
The broadcaster had so far not shared its bouquet of channels with the lone pay DTH operator, Dish TV, despite TRAI including the must-provide clause whereby channels would have to be made available on a non-discriminatory basis to all platforms.
According to industry sources, Star has already initiated discussions with Dish TV and is expected to formalise an agreement soon.
"Star India had raised concerns related to piracy of signals. Now that those concerns have been taken care, it is seeking information on the number of subscribers, profile of subscribers and other such details. Based on this, the broadcaster will have to negotiate the rates and discounts to be offered to the platform," said sources.
They added that these details are being sought as the broadcasting company is trying to assess the revenue loss it could incur from cable operators.
"When popular channels from the Star bouquet are made available on Dish TV, there could be certain losses on the cable subscription revenue. Those would have to be factored in the DTH bouquet pricing."
Currently, the DTH platform has over 2.7 lakh subscribers.
Pay broadcasters such as Star, Sony Entertainment TV India, and Discovery Communications have been opposing TRAI's must-provide clause.
These channels are of the opinion that the clause does not provide any scope for marketing exclusive content.
Also, since content is the key differentiator between platforms, the must-provide clause would reduce competition.
Sony Entertainment TV India, in its representation, had conveyed to TRAI that this clause would, in effect, be tantamount to copyright infringement if creativity is regulated and traditional rights of broadcasters are denied.
Speaking to Business Line, Mr Jawahar Goel, Head of Siticable - which is spearheading the DTH business - said: "We have had some communication with Star India on sharing of content. But I do not think that the intentions are serious enough."
Meanwhile, Dish TV has approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on MTV's unwillingness to come on to its DTH platform.
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