Cable TV

Lucknow cable ops to operate under one headend

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LUCKNOW (UTTAR PRADESH): In a rare show of unity, about 10 cable operators in Lucknow, one of the bigger cable TV markets in the state, have decided to have a central headend in the city which will feed the member cable operators.

The move, if successful, is likely to prove a cause for worry for broadcasters who would find it hard to raise subscription money frequently as the united cable operators may successfully resist such moves.

"We are trying out this innovation of having a central headend in the city which will feed the operators who are with us. If we succeed to stick together for a longer period of time, then we can have a say in the pricing of channels," a cable operator of Lucknow told indiantelevision.com.

However, media watchers in the State capital indicated that the unity may be "short-lived and fragile" as cable operators not only in Lucknow, but all over the country have continuously failed to sustain a unity - one of the reasons why broadcasters have managed to hike their subscription fees frequently. It needs noting though that in smaller towns it has been seen that cable operators do show more unity than those in bigger towns.

Lucknow has about 200,000 cable homes and over 10 cable operators. Still, it does not have a single multi-system operator (MSO). The Subhash Chandra-controlled Zee Tele's subsidiary Siti Cable attempted to set up shop in Lucknow, but had to wind up operations owing to non-cooperation from the existing independent cable operators about six months back.

The central and common headend for cable operators in Lucknow is expected to be operational in about a fortnight's time and will cost the cable operators about Rs 5 million.

For example, recently all the Star channels were blocked by cable operators in Lucknow for three days and it was only due to hectic negotiations by local representatives of Star that the channels were again back in the cable homes.

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