R-ADAG to storm DTH market in March next
11 Dec, 2007, 1255 hrs IST,Sonali Krishna, TNN
MUMBAI: The direct-to-home television market in India is all set to sizzle early next year, when the younger Ambani plans to launch Reliance-ADAG’s BIG DTH hoping to repeat the magic Reliance wrought on the mobile phone scene years ago. Industry sources say Reliance-ADAG executives are lobbying hard to get the government mandate conditional access system (CAS) in 55 cities, just in time for BIG DTH launch.
The advent of CAS will force consumers to make a choice between cable TV, internet TV and DTH, thus helping BIG DTH play the volume game efficiently. The strategy includes attractive subscription offers that would seek to lure viewers further away from cable TV, the sources said. Reliance executives close to the DTH venture confirmed the move to ET.
For one, Reliance is in advanced talks with Toshiba to sign an agreement for about 15 million LCD TVs, to be given along with the DTH connection. The proposal deal stands like this: BIG DTH will offer its DTH connection for Rs 10,000-12,000 and the consumer will get a Toshiba LCD TV free along with the DTH hardware. Also, subscription will be free for the first six months or so.
An email sent to Reliance officials on the same remained unanswered.
Bharti, the other player that is also entering the DTH space, is also learnt to be lobbying for the implementation of CAS. The Bharti DTH project, is learnt to be ready to take off, but the company has decided to hold its launch, for a more opportune entry into the market.
Both players, Reliance and Bharti will combine their telecom services with DTH and IPTV and look at pushing both categories, and in turn cleaning out the cable market.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had mandated CAS in certain areas of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata last year, stating that this was being looked at as an experiment to actually test if CAS as a technology could look at bringing addressability in the broadcast industry.
However, due to the price freeze imposed on by Trai, broadcasters seem to find it an unviable business proposition. In fact, the broadcast fraternity have made several representations to the information & broadcast ministry stating that CAS has been a failure and has not taken off in areas where it has been mandated.
The call to mandate CAS across India is clearly a tough call and actually borders on a much larger issue of being more a political issue. For Mr Ambani to actually swing it is going to be a mammoth task, considering the various stakeholders such as cable operators and broadcasters, who will go all out to oppose the move.