Television

etc Punjabi may go pay post CAS

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MUMBAI: Although ETC Networks had earlier announced that its channels etc and etc Punjabi would become free-to-air after 14 July 2003, there is a possibility that etc Channel Punjabi will go pay.



At a CAS seminar organised by ETC Networks in Mumbai on Thursday, ETC Networks' director Jagjit Singh Kohli said the decision would depend on the business/revenue model of the channel. "Our research indicates that etc Punjabi has exclusive content that is not available with competitors - for instance, the Gurbani (live renditions from the Sikh holy book relayed from the Golden Temple, Amritsar). Moreover, our internal research indicates that large chunks of viewers in North India are hooked on to the channel and will definitely pay the monthly charges."



However, Kohli categorically confirmed that the flagship Hindi music channel etc would remain FTA. "etc music channel has substantial reach, penetration and distribution. In fact, it gets advertising revenues due to these strengths. Moreover, it also earns monies due to sponsored trailors and music videos amongst others. There is no question that etc Hindi would remain free," Kohli said.



He also added that several broadcasters will have to take a decision about converting pay channels into FTA and vice versa. "It entirely depends on the business model that the broadcaster adopts. Currently, some of the MSOs are asking pay channels for commitments that they would remain pay for a certain specified duration. However, the government notifications don't specify any such commitments. As far as the government is concerned, the more the number of FTA channels, the better it is. The government can then claim that CAS is a success."



In an interesting revelation, Kohli also pointed out that the broadcasters have proposed to have different MRPs (market retail prices) for channels in different cities. In their meeting with MSOs on 18 June, broadcasters had given MSOs a chance to add their margins to the pay channel rates specified by the broadcasters. However, Kohli felt that the differential pricing regime would not be allowed as the government wants standardised rates across the country.

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