Friday, 1 February 2008

Digitalization On The Go

These are interesting times in the industry. In every segment there is hectic activity and an increasing sense of competition giving rise to new strategies, innovations and technology upgrades. Digital is the buzz word everywhere. Existing DTH players are facing the heat of technology changes from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. The new players are adopting MPEG-4 to provide more number of channels and better services including HDTV. Also, there is a race amongst the existing players to grab the viewers before the new ones catch them. Rates have been cut down to half and free subscriptions are being doled out. 
Ground networks of Cable Operators are being upgraded to digital. With IPTV permitted to the registered Cable Operators without any license, they have more options for their upgrades now. HITS may further accelerate the digital process in the Cable TV industry. At present only WWIL will go in for HITS as they already have a license. Others are likely to wait and watch to see how the market reacts to HITS. Definitely, there will be many issues to be resolved in the earlier days of implementation. 

IPTV and Mobile TV have also made soft launches. Operators are approaching the market very cautiously as the technology is totally unknown to the consumers. These technologies are being introduced only in the big cities where the television market is already in the hands of Cable Operators. They do look very attractive in the media reports but their acceptance in the market is not so easy. It may take another three to five years for masses to switch to the new technologies. 
All these changes in the technology demand new regulatory measures keeping TRAI and the Ministries very busy. Particularly, TRAI is quite hard pressed these days as they are the first one to face the brunt of the stake holders who resist any change in their work environment. 
We also hear many acquisitions and mergers these days, a clear sign of an evolving industry. Investment scenario is becoming better and better as the economy grows rapidly. India is coming in the forefront as the fastest growing economy in the world. A true example is NDTV group, Network 18 & UTV group announcing new tie-ups every day. Also, the recent bidding for the IPL teams and their players made India a treasure house of the cricket world. Since cricket grows with television, the television industry will also be benefited with such activities. 
See you at Cabsat 2008 at Dubai, Convergence India 2008 at New Delhi, CCBN at Beijing and Frames 2008 at Mumbai. The month well keep us busy attending these events. 

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma



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