Dish TV flexes muscles; to launch consumer campaign


MUMBAI: Dish TV subscribers will find a ticker running on their TV screens when they tune in tomorrow morning. The Direct-To-Home (DTH) player begins a campaign, starting 15 November, called ?On Request Channels.? The move, it says, is to give TV consumers a freedom of choice.

With this, Dish TV says it aims to provide consumers a flexible package and savings by offering channels ?on request only basis?.

Currently, the DTH provider has seven different packages for subscribers in north India and eight different packages for south Indian subscribers with a combination of different channels.

Now, Dish TV proposes to classify most channels as ?On Request Channels.' The subscribers will have several weeks to decide and place their request.

Once a subscriber places a request to unsubscribe to a particular channel or channels, he/she will stop receiving them from the cut-off date, Dish TV states. These subscribers will be given 100 bonus points (worth Rs 100) for each unrequested channel. The points can be used to purchase movies-on-demand and selected a la carte channels of their choice.

Says Dish TV India CEO R.C Venkateish:  ?The current trend from media aggregators is to force-bundle all kinds of unwanted channels into packages and the customer is forced to receive numerous channels that he/ she may never watch or appreciate. The idea is to have viewers watch and opt for channels or content that they like and our new offer gives them just that. The bonus point here is that they can save as well.?

The DTH operator, over a period of time, expects content costs to come down significantly, with each subscriber being served only those channels that he or she wants to watch. The DTH player wants to pass down the benefits to its consumers, it says.

The Jawahar Goel run-DTH player says channels that want to reach out to subscribers despite being unrequested will need to pay a carriage fee to compensate for the extra bandwidth consumption.

Dish TV, says it has also circulated a rate card to all broadcasters for carriage services as well as a menu of offerings for different levels of service including channel numbers.

The move has got the aggregators' ire despite it being pitched as a pro-consumer offering.  ?It will only confuse consumers. Which consumer has the time to choose channels?? says an aggregator on condition of anonymity.

He further adds that Dish TV is under pressure with five other DTH players competing in the space and it is resorting to gimmicks.

?Another reason for this could be that it is looking at extracting more carriage fees from the broadcasters,? he says. "It could be posturing for all you know as it may be laying the ground to negotiate better when the time comes to renew deals with aggregators."

The buzz is that the IndiaCast bouquet of channels is likely to be listed in the ticker which begins on 15 November.  IndiaCast group COO Gaurav Gandhi was surprised when indiantelevision.com called him up. "I don't know what you are talking about," he said.  ?As far as we are concerned, we have a very good relationship with Dish TV. We have four ongoing deals with them, right now. We will have to see how it plays out.?

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