Need for addressability stressed at Entermedia 2001

The Entermedia 2001 conference kicked off in Mumbai's western suburb of Andheri today with the issue of addressability forming the core of discussions at the session on television and broadcasting.

IN Cable's Ashok Mansukhani, speaking for cable operators, pointed that the cable industry, like the film industry is facing difficulties with the recent announcement of a 5 per cent service tax on cable operations passed in mid-July. "Nobody exactly knows on what the sales tax is to be paid, and the interesting part the service tax is that cable operator are supposed to file a declaration and if your declaration is incorrect then you are liable for prosecution," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Sandeep Goyal, group broadcasting CEO, Zee Network, pointed out that the cost of creating content for television had escalated without a concomitant increase in revenues from advertising and this pointed to the need to bring in more addressability by way of cable operators declaring their actual subscriber base.

Stating that it were the consumer who were reluctant to pay the full amount for the subscription, Mansukhani said the current rate that cable operators pay per subscriber was Rs 104 while the consumer paid only RS 100.

Though much was said about problems dogging cable operators, the addressablity issue and what should be done to come to terms with it, what eventually remained unaddressed was a concrete proposal to tackle this problem.

The panelists consisted of Kiran Karnik, former Discovery Channel head who recently was appointed as the president of NASSCOM, Ravi Gupta, CEO B4U; Ravina Raj Kohli, CEO, HFCL-Nine Broadcasting India Ltd; Ashok Mansukhani, Incable; Sandeep Goyal, group broadcasting CEO, Zee Network; K. Kunhikrishnan, deputy director-general, DD; Rajesh Pant, Sony Entertainment Television and RK Gupta from Prasar Bharti.

Karnik pointed out that if the next phase of growth in the industry was to be kickstarted, it was imperative that subscription rates be hiked to at least RS 300.

Gupta said there many inefficiencies of the products that go across channels. Systems were required which would provide better utilisation of products.

Is the cable industry in India going to see the size and growth that has happened in the developed countries like the US? Can we expect international cable operators pumping money into last mile connectivity? How soon is the pay market expected to develop for the broadcasters? What is the realistic number of channels the Indian industry can support - both nationally as well as regionally? Does DTH have a realistic future in India? These were some of the questions which received no satisfactory answers.

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