Cable TV

Ministry seeks data on impact of digitisation from IBF, NBA

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NEW DELHI: Digitisation of cable TV in the top four metros has resulted in 20-25 per cent fall in carriage fees paid and a 200-300 per cent rise in subscription charges earned by broadcasters, said Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) joint secretary-broadcasting, Supriya Sahu.

Sahu said the impact of phase I digitisation on the revenues of broadcasters was based on a report submitted by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) for 10 news broadcasters.

But, Sahu was quick to also add, that while the broadcasters have given the report for phase I, they have expressed that the result in phase II of digitisation in 38 cities has not been too good.

“We have asked both the IBF (Indian Broadcasters Foundation) and the NBA to give us reports for phase II. Broadcasters need to share their data with the ministry to help us understand if the carriage fees have gone down or not,” said Sahu."And to assess better the effectiveness of our digitisation programme."

Sahu was addressing CASBAA India Forum 2014,  in New Delhi, an annual event to explore the Indian cable and broadcasting markets in the context of the global economy and challenging regulatory regime. She emphasised that everyone involved in the TV value chain has gained - broadcasters, MSOs, local cable operators, and even state governments - thanks to the digitisation drive the government has enforced over the past 18-24 months.

Making an extremely detailed presentation replete with statistics and numbers, she pointed out that the tax collected by the Delhi government from phase I digitisation areas was three-times the pre-digitisation level. “While in August 2012 the tax revenue collected by government was Rs 55 lakh, in August 2013, the revenue collected is close to Rs 3 crore,” informed Sahu.

According to data received by the ministry from one of the national multi-system operator, the carriage fee received by it per channel from broadcasters in Delhi has fallen to Rs 3.79 lakh after digitization from Rs 12.33 lakh in the pre-digitisation era. In Mumbai, the carriage fee per channel has fallen to Rs 2.16 lakh from Rs 6.51 lakh in pre-digitisation ear.

Similarly, the subscription fee paid to broadcasters by the MSO in Delhi has gone up to Rs 597.06 lakh from Rs 438.57 lakh before digitisation. In Mumbai, the subscription fee paid to broadcasters by the MSO rose to Rs 183.13 lakh from Rs 116.79 lakh before digitisation.

She pointed out that only 10 broadcasters have come forward o share data about the impact of digitisation on their business and beseeched more of them to do so.

Summarising the total number of cable TV homes, Sahu said, “As per 2011 census, the total number of cable TV homes is 11.65 crore. The total number of set top boxes required, after adding 20 per cent for multiple TVs in houses and TVs in offices and shops, a total of 14 crore STBs are needed. While a total of 3 crore STBs have been seeded in phase I and II collectively, more 11 crore STBs are needed for phase III and phase IV.”

Sahu acknowledged that there could be tough times in digitisation of cable TV homes in phase III and phase IV markets. “77 per cent of the phase III and phase IV falls in 10 states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, UP, Maharashtra, Kerala, etc. The MIB will initially focus on these 10 states. If this is achieved, achieving the deadline for digitising phase III and phase IV will be easy,” she said. "There are a lot of learnings we have got from the first two phases; there are roadblocks we have understood we need to overcome. All our learnings wlll be put to practical use as we move into phase III and phase IV in a serious manner."

The ministry is also looking at conducting an impact assessment survey to study the how digitisation has affected the local cable operators. “We will start this in the next couple of months,” concluded Sahu.

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