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DTH guidelines to stay: Mohan

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MUMBAI: “The potential is there as an alternate platform. But to drive DTH forward the government should rethink its stand on cross media ownership restrictions as well as foreign investment in DTH projects. Additionally, the mandatory requirement for open architecture for the set top box is another serious challenge in the push for DTH.” That was the common line taken by the four panelists who shared the dais with I&B joint secretary Rakesh Mohan who was the moderator on the discussion “DTH: making it a Viable Option.”

Mohan’s response was that there are serious players who have shown interest in getting into DTH (Zee through Agrani and Star through Space TV) so there is no requirement to alter the present guidelines for starting DTH operations in India.

 

That was the gist of the discussions around the subject at today’s session.

As far as what are the issues that would make DTH a competitive option, Merril Lynch’s Prahlad Shantigram identified three issues: pricing, content and customer services.

After 10, years the C&S population would go up to 150 million from the current 40 million and DTH could possibly cover 15 to 20 per cent of that population. But Shantigram said only players with strong financial muscle could get into a game that he estimated would cost between $ 500 million to $ 1 billion over the next seven years.

When it was pointed out that a lot of the additional qualitative advantages that DTH offered would be provided by digital cable, the conclusion of the panelists was that the value adds that DTH offered should be seen beyond just as an entertainment vehicle but a tool through which a wide range of services could be addressed.

The serious disadvantage the session had was that neither of the two serious players in the DTH plans - Agrani and Space TV - were not represented at the discussions.

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