Jaldi 5 with Yogesh Radhakrishnan: I&B min has done its best on digitization deadline

26 Sep,2012

There’s more reason than one why we interview Yogesh Radhakrishnan today. While he is Managing Director and CEO of Media Networks and Distribution Ltd which runs Prime Connect, the content distribution platform he has formed in a jv with The Times of India group, Mr Radhakrishnan has also been one of the earliest entrants in the cable distribution space. He has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of distribution by setting up two MSOs and also a few satellite and cable television channels (ETC, CVO, In Mumbai).

 

In the run-up to digitization, we interviewed the heads of the local cable operators (Roop Sharma) and MSOs (Ashok Mansukhani).  We presented the same set of questions to Mr Radhakrishnan…

 

01 We have a little over a month to go for digitization in the four metros. If the government estimates of last week were to be believed, by now over 70 per cent of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai would be digitized. Is that the case?

I’m fairly confident that it will happen. Thanks to all the propaganda and advertisements done by the I&B Ministry, people are now aware that there is a deadline to digitization. And if they don’t do anything then they’ll be left with nothing but blank screens. So, there is enough and more awareness among people. Also, whatever percentage is left will get their act together and do the needful as soon as possible.

 

02 Are the lower income groups in these cities buying set-top boxes?

Today, if one takes a look at any income group, we’ll see that most people have mobile phones. And one needs to only pay Rs599 or Rs799 or Rs999 (different costs at which cable operators are giving set-up boxes) one time to get a connection which isn’t much. So, I don’t dont there is going to be any issue with lower income groups buying the set-up boxes.

 

03 There is a worry that there will be some piracy in the form of pilferage of signals after November 1.

Government is very clear about the actions that will be taken against anyone who does not follow the rules. It is a criminal offence and strict action will be taken. I don’t think the government and other authorities involved are going to let anything happen unlike what happened with CAS.

 

04 What more would you like the government/others to do to ensure 100% digitization?

I think the I&B Ministry is doing and has done the best to create enough awareness regarding digitization and the looming deadline. So, now all depends on people and how fast they change from analogue to digital. Hopefully, people will understand and convert at the earliest.

 

05 The last mile which is managed by the local cable operators is the key to the implementation of Digitization. Are all cable operators working step-in-step with MSOs in the four metros about the implementation of the October 31 deadline?

The two have to work with each other otherwise they know that their customers can be lured away by DTH companies. Hence, they need to take pro-active steps to enhance the corporation between themselves and to make sure people buy set-up boxes from them.

 

Interviewed by Meghna Sharma

 

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