MxM Mondays: Stakeholders’ view on Phase II

11 Mar,2013

 

By Ananya Saha

 

The data from DTH operators and MSOs indicates that more than 87.7 lakh Set Top Boxes (STBs) have been installed in Phase II cities against the target of 1.60 crore, registering an achievement of over 55 percent digitization. Out of 87.7 lakh, DTH connections accounted for 40.7 lakh, whereas cable STBs accounted for 47.0 lakh. A release from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that it has been constantly monitoring preparedness for the implementation of digital addressable cable TV system in the 38 cities of Phase II. We speak to a cross-section of stakeholders for their views (in alphabetical order of their last names):

 

Phase II: 38 Cities that need to be digitized by March 31, 2013
 

1. Bangalore

2. Hyderabad

3. Ahmedabad

4. Pune

5. Surat

6. Kanpur

7. Jaipur

8. Lucknow

9. Nagpur

10. Patna

11. Indore

12. Bhopal

13. Thane

14. Ludhiana

15. Agra

16. Pimpri Chinchwad

17. Nashik

18. Vadodara

19. Faridabad

20. Ghaziabad

21. Rajkot

22. Meerut

23. Kalyan-Dombivli

24. Varanasi

25. Amritsar

26. Navi Mumbai

27. Aurangabad

28. Solapur

29. Allahabad

30. Jabalpur

31. Srinagar

32. Vizag

33. Ranchi

34. Howrah

35. Chandigarh

36. Coimbatore

37. Mysore

38. Jodhpur

 

Anuj Gandhi, CEO, IndiaCast

All stakeholders are playing their role efficiently. We are playing our role and getting the deals done. We are using the learnings of Phase I when it comes to the issue of carriage fees. None of the MSOs are complaining this time. In Phase I, we did not have a refence point and now we have the signed deals of Phase I. This time it is a lot easier.

 

 

Joydip Kapadia, Executive Vice President, What’s On India Media

It will happen but in a phased manner. My logic is based on the fact that MSOs who are present in the metros are also present in these 38 towns. MIB has an upper hand now, and industry is prepared that Phase II has to happen unlike the Phase I where in the Delhi and Mumbai people thought that deadline would be extended. The towns like Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Pune etc are almost on track to become digitized while towns like Nagpur might take more time.

 

Ashok Mansukhani, President, MSO Alliance

Digitization has become a habit, and that is definitely good news. The consumers want the STB, doesn’t matter if it belongs to MSO or DTH operator. Of course, the markets in Phase II cities are more price sensitive than the Phase I cities. One also needs to understand that in the 42 cities that will be digitized by the end of Phase I and Phase II, a lot of people live in the slum areas. Hence, new packages will have to be announced on three price points: 100-150 Rs, 200-250 Rs and 300-350 Rs. The packages need to be tolerable to broadcaster, consumer and MSOs.

 

My only request would be let us not bother too much about the date; we have achieved a big task. I am sure that out of 38 cities, 25 cities will meet the deadline but switch off pay channels in the cities that do not meet the deadline if you want faster progress. MIB has taken stricter stock of progress this time around.

 

We MSOs have taken loan of about Rs 500 crore; no matter what we cannot afford to let digitization fail. I foresee that in the coming months, prepaid will gain more prominence as mode of payment.

 

P Mohan, President, Karnataka Cable TV Chamber of Commerce

I do not agree with the figures. The digitized homes are close to 35-40 percent in Bangalore. The national MSOs are focusing on meeting the supply for Phase I, only then would they concentrate on Phase II. We have been asking for boxes for more than four months, and even if they offer us STBs now, installation takes time. How are we supposed to install, offer packages, explain the packages to each customer is so less time when the deadline is approaching fast?

 

We are not against digitization. It was in 2002 that we had proposed DAS. Today, MSOs, broadcasters and DTH operators have formed one group. And LCOs are not even asked or consulted.

 

Bangalore has many additional TV homes. And the homes which installed digital boxes 4-5 years ago are today asking for replacements. The quality of STBs and the technology they support is also a concern.

 

Mukund Babaji Pednekar, Distributor, Hathway cable at Thakurli, Dombivli & Kopar

Digitization is happening at a smooth pace in our area, and we are positive of meeting the deadline. We have no problems or concerns regarding digitization. The consumer is aware and knows how they will benefit with digitization. Yes, the prices of STBs was Rs 600 when we ordered it two months ago and now it has increased to Rs 999. But thankfully, we do not need boxes as of now.

 

Man Jit Singh, President, IBF

The consumers are aware, the communication is reaching them. As broadcaster, we are aware that there will be a short-term reduction in profitability but we are positive that going forward, thanks to digitization, the ratio of our revenues from advertisements and subscription will be 50:50. The stakeholders have worked together, and are facilitating dialogue all across. With transparent systems in place, the industry will only progress. The numbers are impressive, and hopefully we will meet the deadline.

 

Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

We stand by our figures. The figures have been collated with industry feedback. We have not come across any negatives regarding meeting the deadline. Yes, some issues will obviously crop up but are sure to get resolved as well. Of course one issue leads to another: complete opaqueness, incomplete subscriber data etc will a little time to solve.

 

My own understanding is that digital cable is a better platform than DTH as it can provide other services as well. In the long run, common sense suggests that digital cable will see a bigger comeback.

 

Regarding the carrying capacity of STB, I am sure that domestic industry associations will step up to meet demands.

 

 

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