MSOs oppose WWIL's carriage rev share offer to LCOs

MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra-promoted Wire and Wireless (India) Ltd (WWIL) has decided to share 25 per cent of its carriage income from DAS (digital addressable systems) markets with local cable operators (LCOs).

This controversial decision has angered multi-system operators (MSOs) who have reacted vehemently against such disruptive announcements, alleging that WWIL is out to spoil the market at a crucial time when the country is readying to transition from analogue to digital systems.

"Carriage fee is irrelevant in the digital era in the medium-to-long term, according to Zee network, an asociate of WWIL. The statement made by WWIL, however, implies that carriage will continue. So the two positions are conflicting," says Hathway Cable & Datacom MD & CEO K Jayaraman.

As per WWIL‘s offer, the LCOs who take the set-top boxes (STBs) before 30 June, the deadline for the first phase in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai Kolkata and Chennai, will get a 25 per cent of the share of the carriage revenue earned by the MSO in the DAS markets. The MSO will fix the carriage income it will have to cough out to the LCOs on a per box basis.

"The LCOs who accept the offer for the digital switchover by 30 June will get 25 per cent of the carriage fee earned by us on a per box basis. We are also giving the STBs at a subsidised price of Rs 699 per box before 15 June, post which the boxes will be available for 799. We have a need of 2.5 million boxes, out of which 50 per cent is in Kolkata," WWIL COO Anil Malhotra tells Indiantelevision.

WWIL will, thus, become the first company in the cable TV space in India to announce such a step.

This was announced at the Delhi cable operator meet organised by WWIL to speed up the process of digitisation.

Jayaraman feels that this scheme is entirely confusing and will go against broadcasting, especially as it comes from a former IBF president, as even DTH distributors will demand carriage.

Will Hathway be forced to follow WWIL‘s revenue share model?

Hathway already offers schemes to the distributors who, in turn, will pass it on to the consumers, as per Trai directive and market forces.

WWIL is a major force in Kolkata but lacks sizeable base in Delhi and Mumbai.

Says Den Networks COO MG Azhar, "We are not going to share carriage revenues with LCOs. We are already subsiding the STBs."

Agrees IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd (IMCL) managing director Ravi Mansukhani, "We do not care what they do on their networks. If they try to step into our territories, we will unite with the other top MSOs and take a call".

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