VSNL targets DTH platform by July; alliance with Star on the cards?


The Big Daddy is putting together its plans for direct-to-home (DTH) television and other aspirants can either try to beat them or join them.

The Hindustan Times reported on Saturday that Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) intends to be the first company in India to enter this segment with an investment in excess of Rs 2.5 billion. The proposal will be put up before the company board on 22 January for in-principle approval and VSNL hopes to be ready with a platform by July this year, the report says. VSNL's plans are very significant as a number of players like the C. Sivasankaran-run Sterling group in partnership with Zee TV, Jain TV, DD, Modi Entertainment Network and B4U have all announced that they would either invest in or set up DTH platforms themselves.

If VSNL achieves first to market advantage, it will be in a position to offer services to these companies. VSNL chairman and managing director SK Gupta did not comment on whether any tie-ups were in the offing, but hinted that he had an open mind on the issue.

A real possibility though would be an alliance with Star TV. It appears to be the only private player seriously putting together any plans to start DTH operations. According to published reports Star is willing to put in up to $ 500 million in its DTH project taking on as many as three to four partners. Star is believed to be ready to form some sort of association with VSNL if it makes business sense.

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