BBC World Service, InCableNet reach deal for radio programming

BBC World Service and IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd announced toady a partnership to provide BBC radio programmes 24 hours a day on INCableNet, in Mumbai.

BBC radio programmes will now be available live from London via satellite in digital sound on INCableNet's network in Mumbai. INCableNet had been running a test feed for some days prior to the formal announcement.

INCableNet president

Rajiv vyas

On hand to explain the strategy were Head of BBC World Service for Asia and Pacific region Elizabeth Wright and president INCableNet Rajiv Vyas.

Wright said that the aim of the broadcaster was to reach a larger audience. She pointed out that in addition to English programmes, viewers will also get four hours of Hindi programmes every day and half an hour of Tamil programmes. Hindi programming is at 6:30 am, 8:00 am, 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm and Tamil programmes are beamed at 8:45 pm daily.

INCableNet has put BBC on S Band, which gives them convenient access to the MSO's subscriber base, Vyas said. INCableNet claims to cover 60-70 per cent of the city.

Explaining the thinking behind launching the radio feed on Incable Net, Wright said: "Radio has something to offer that television cannot. It allows one to do other chores while catching up with news, listening to a sports broadcast or listening to music."

"As the most dynamic region of the world, the Asia and the Pacific area present tremendous challenges and opportunities for broadcasters" Wright said.

"Actually, the idea is not so strange in the era of convergence - we

Head of BBC World Service for Asia and Pacific region

Elizabeth Wright

already have a similar, but not so comprehensive, deal with RPG in Calcutta. The great advantage is that the BBC World Service will be available to at least 1.5 million households in Mumbai in perfect sound quality, where in thepast they would have had to struggle with short wave. We fully accept that this will only appeal to a niche audience, but it provides added value for us and for InCableNet. There is now a real resurgence of interest in radio in Mumbai, but at present this is almost exclusively music. We are there for people who want news and information in depth," Wright said. 

Regarding the service on RPG in Kolkata, Wright said the Bengali programmes had proved popular with women in the afternoon. BBC was also running technology trials in conjunction with Siticable in a bid to expand its presence in other areas of the country, she added. The BBC's ability to produce world class radio programmes in different languages will enable it to establish the brand in different markets, she asserted. 

Vyas said that this new initiative is in keeping with the MSO's strategy of providing value added services to subscribers. It fits in with the operators' convergence initiatives. The television in the near future will be a single utility point where one can surf the net, listen to radio and make telephone calls, Vyas said. Talking about other initiatives that were in the pipeline, Vyas said InCable would be introducing VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services in the immediate future that would allow subscribers to make calls abroad at cheaper rates. The company's Internet arm, already has an all-India ISP license, Vyas said. According to him, it currently has a presence in nine cities with a subscriber base of over 30,000.

Currently, the service with BBC is available only in Mumbai and depending on the feedback, the MSO could extend the facility to other cities where it has a presence, Vyas said. 

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