IDOS 2013: Summit shows the way forward for broadcasting

GOA: Opening the summit founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari stated: “This year the theme is harvesting the fruits of digitisation. The seeds for this harvest and fruits were sown when the skies were opened up nearly 23 years ago.”

A lot more transparency needs to come in amongst the various players in the value chain, says founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari

Wanvari stated that fruits are beginning to make their appearance with the potential to be picked by everyone in the television ecosystem, whether it is the government or the broadcaster or the MSO or the LMO or the satellite operator and finally the customer. “The customer has already plucked some of these fruits in terms of quality of content and signals; ability to choose what he wants to watch. But there are plenty more, especially low hanging fruits that have not yet been plucked such as local content which cable can really capitalise on in Phase III and IV.”

Wanvari reiterated a lot more transparency needs to come in amongst the various players in the value chain and an atmosphere of trust built amongst themselves for the time to harvest to be speeded up. “Let us look at how each of the ecosystem players can add value to their toplines and their earnings in the coming months and years and work together with each other,” he concluded.

Media Partners Asia executive director Vivek Couto said that Asia and the India economies have been going through tough times.  Foreign direct investment has slowed down in the first quarter of this financial year. The stock prices of listed entities in this space have also plummeted.

Asia and the Indian economies have been going through tough times, but there are interesting times ahead, says Media Partners Asia executive director Vivek Couto

“But there are interesting times ahead and the green shoots are just beginning to emerge,” said Couto.

Amongst these include: The fact that DTH players have been able to increase the amount they charge for the set top boxes and the gross subscriber numbers have risen to 60 million. And the fact is that more than 25 million digital set top boxes have been installed by the MSOs as part of phase I and phase II.  

Couto also stated that direct billing systems have also started being implemented by cable operators whether in partnership with LCOs (i.e. Siticable) or across MSOs. And, the DTH increase has significantly reduced its free viewing period and started to increase entry pack tiers.

Finally, a number of launches this year including Zee Anmol, Star Movies Premiere HD, AXN and Romedy now bodes well for the sector.

TRAI principal advisor M Parameswaran stated that digitisation has taken its time  and it’s a process which is evolving thanks to the efforts of everyone in the ecosystem. “We have focused on three consultation papers – the ratings one, the MSO monopoly one and the need for aggregators,” he says. This we believe will help the industry move forward.”

Parameswaran emphasised the need now for a business model to evolve, one that helped grow the pie for all the stakeholders. “What the industry needs is to move forward on billing,” he stated. And he pointed out that broadcasters can take decisions on pricing their content in the digital ecosystem, adding that the analogue pricing cap will soon no longer be relevant.

DEN Networks chairman Sameer Manchanda said that he was an optimist, which is what prompted him to launch his cable TV MSO six years ago. He gave examples of the media ecosystem in the US where there is tremendous scale and profit across cable, DTH and broadcast businesses, highlighting significant potential for India.

Overall Manchanda was extremely positive that the cable TV sector can only grow and grow positively. He added that his network had enough funds to meet the challenge of phase III and phase IV.

Tata SKY managing director Harit Nagpal recalled that while entering the business, he was surprised to see arguments in the sector about pricing being 25 per cent or 42 per cent. “For me the business was funny. It’s like Hindustan Lever giving away its soap to retailers and expecting advertising on the wrapper to pay for it,” he said. “It was an untenable business model.”

Nagpal conceded that the industry has come a long way over the past three years with digitisation and stronger rationalisation and business sense in DTH. However, he said the industry had a long way to go, especially in terms of pushing the boundaries of pricing and packaging and ensuring that consumers pay higher value for aggressively windowed content broadcast in SD and HD formats.

Click here for more pictures of IDOS 2013, Goa

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