Cable TV

Cable TV distribution to get fillip from demonetisation

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MUMBAI: The cable television distribution business, a section of which has been infamous for dealings in unaccounted money, will have to upgrade addressability in the backdrop of the decision to demonetise higher value currency. It is estimated that the analog subscriber base will come down by 37% this year as they switch over to digital cable under DAS III and IV, according to sector estimates.

According to a FICCI-KPMG report, there are approximately 65 million analog cable television subscribers in India, around 37 million digital cable television subscribers, 44 million pay DTH (direct-to-home) subscribers and some 15 million free DTH (FTA) subscribers. The benefit of dealing in cash prompts most operators to under-report subscriber numbers and eventually revenue. However, this may substantially reduce with the new government move, experts said.

KPMG partner - media & entertainment Jehil Thakkar said that, with digitisation (under DAS III and IV), TRAI has proposed new pricing for TV channels. The purpose was to make it affordable. With demonetisation, the cable operators may have to clean up their operations so that there was transparency in dealings with broadcasters.

DAS could act as a catalyst for cable operators to reduce under-reporting. Demonetisation, experts said, could become a trigger for the switchover. Under-reporting of subscription revenue by the cable operator per individual or household had been estimated to be 15-20%. DTH, however, has overcome this issue by using a pricing strategy based on the number of channels seen by a consumer.

Meanwhile, the release of a number of Telugu films including Intlo Deyyam - Nakem Bhayam and Ram Charan Teja’s Dhruva have been postponed. Box office earnings have gone substantially down for Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam films owing to demonetisation. Producers are being forced to defer releases due to low turnouts.

Several film shoots have been suspended, and many theatres in Kerala are planning to shut shop owing to non-availability of low denomination notes. Work on national award-winning director Sidharth Siva’s new movie Sakavu too has been deferred.

Income Tax officials meanwhile raided the house of the campaign manager of Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy and ex-MLA A John Kumar, seizing Rs. 14 lakh in cash. The ex-MLA of Nellithope, whose business is cable TV distribution, real estate etc, is also the manager of Narayanasamy’s campaign.

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