Updated: 01:00 PM
MUMBAI: Grant Investrade, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hinduja Ventures, has received an in principle approval from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry for launch of head-end in the sky (HITS) services for cable TV operators.
The company received the in principal approval on Wednesday. The company had applied for a HITS licence on 15 November, 2012.
It has to pay a licence fee of Rs 10 crore before it gets the HITS licence, Hinduja Ventures’ Group CEO-Media and IndusInd Media and Communications’ MD & CEO, Tony D’silva, told Indiantelevision.com.
Grant Investrade will also have to seek two more clearances – one from the Network Operation Coordination Centre for the satellite to be used for the HITS services and second from the Wireless Planning and Coordination wing of the Ministry of Communications.
D’silva said Grant Investrade would need about 10 transponders and would be finalising a deal with a private satellite operator in the next 15-20 days. There is no transponder capacity available on Indian government’s satellites. The satellite ground station will either be located in Mumbai or in New Delhi.
Grant Investrade will need about six months to launch its HITS service with 400 television channels. The company has already shortlisted suppliers for dishes and other equipment. Castle Media is providing it technology solutions and project management services.
Grant Investrade’s entire business plan for HITS has been vetted by consulting firms KPMG and Deloitte.
The company will be targeting cable operators in areas earmarked for digitisation of cable TV services in Phase III and Phase IV.
D’silva says that the HITS business makes sense because of digitisation and pointed out that 50 per cent of US-based Comcast’s cable television services are provided through HITS.
Grant Investrade will be investing another $100 million (about Rs 620 crore) to operationalise the HITS project. Hinduja Ventures had earlier invested $10 million in the technology required for the HITS venture.
The company will start promotional campaigns after the satellite is finalised and other requirements are in place.
Grant Investrade believes there is no other way than HITS to deal with phase III and IV. With HITS, the average cost of delivering data would fall to Rs 8 per customer from Rs 18 per customer through optic fibre.
D’silva had told Indiantelevision.com earlier, “If we are serious about digitisation, the government should have first cleared our HITS project. We are saying the LCOs can own the consumers and can do the packaging. We will help them seed boxes. It is different than JAINHITS. We have three to four different boxes and they get an option to choose.”
JAINHITS is the first company to get HITS licence. JAINHITS provides digitised and encrypted satellite TV signals directly to cable network owners.