Friday, 8 August 2014

Indian DTH is on Cloud Nine

With th arrival of new government in the country, things are changing in a positive way. The economy is going up and industrial production is increasing. This growth will also be reflected in Broadcast Industry in the coming times. However it needs a lot of change in the policies as most of the DAS regulations for implementing digitalisation have been challenged in the courts. 
This special supplement on DTH is our attempt to provide maximum information about Indian DTH service and related issues in a compact form. As reported by TRAI, there are 64.82 million DTH subscribers out of which 37.19 million are active as on 31.03.2014.
We have Anil Khera, CEO Videocon DTH telling us the present state of the market and Harit Nagpal, CEO Tata Sky talking about the developments in technologies in the sector. We have also given in brief the TRAI recommendations on licensing issues for DTH services that were released in the last month itself.  A chart on DTH operations provides you a summary of all DTH players in the country.
Amongst the contributions from the industry worldwide, we have Steve Christian, Vice President of Marketing, Verimatrix talking about software based IP centric security solutions where control and integrity can be managed at the point of service origin, are especially well aligned with the vision of a more dynamic, flexible and extensible value proposition that will drive the new marketplace. 
Thierry Fautier, Vice President of Solutions Marketing at Harmonic has sent us an article on OTT Multiscreen Service Trends for the DTH Market. As far as technology is concerned, our DTH operators are no less than any in the world. We have DTH players providing a plethora of value added services to subscribers like VoD, interactive content, education etc. By 2015, we may have the launch of Ultra HD transmission on DTH. Some are providing OTT and TV everywhere services, at par with what we have in the most developed markets of US and Europe.
ARPUs are still an issue in India. Inspite of large number of subscribers, high ARPU subscribers are very few resulting in ARPUs reaching only the Rs 200 mark. It is difficult to raise the subscriptions. Very recently a number of stakeholders have approached TDSAT challenging 27.5% hike in Pay TV rates allowed by TRAI, in two phases. Three DTH operators, around 15 cable operators’ associations and a consumer organisation have joined the fight against Mandatory price hike, alleging it to be arbitrary and against the public interest as this will make it more difficult for subscribers to migrate to Digital Technology.
Demand for interoperable STBs has also been made by a consumer Association in Kerala High Court challenging the non-availability of STBs in the open market as provisioned in the DTH Guidelines.  However, the Court has disposed off the petition directing the Ministry to reply to the petitioners within two months. In the mean time, TRAI has given its recommendations for issues related to DTH licences in which it has got rid of the clause for mandatory interoperable STBs.
Also, TRAI has also given its Recommendations on Tariff for commercial subscribers last month. According to these recommendations, it is the distribution platforms, including Cable Operators, DTH and IPTV operators, who would deal directly with commercial subscribers and decide their tariff as per the ordinary subscribers rather than the broadcasters deciding their tariff. 
Multiple taxation is also worrying the DTH players and they hope this new government may resolve the issue in public interest. Contrary to expectations of the Industry, budget has not brought cheers to the stakeholders as no financial sops have been announced. 
However, DTH operators have a cause to celebrate as TRAI’s new recommendation on DTH licensing have given them what all they desired. This includes 8% of AGR as licensing fee, 20 years of license duration and no increase in entry fee. TRAI has also released a consultation paper on Regulation of Platform services like Cable TV channels, VOD, Games etc. Most of the responses from stakeholders have opposed any regulations for these services. Recommendations are awaited. 
Two technology giants of the world, CISCO and Broadcom showcased their latest technologies last month that would revolutionise the broadcast scene. These included OTT, TV Everywhere, Self Programmed EPG and interactive menus etc. which some of the DTH players have already started embracing, for keeping an edge over the cable MSOs. We hope you like the supplement. We shall welcome any suggestions to make it better next year.

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